Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rumors, Speculation and Fact

In writing this blog I have been careful to distinguish between rumor, speculation and fact.

One of my blog colleagues is now accusing me of perpetuating a rumor.

As it was put,
“If we have enough credible evidence to put people on leave, let's get it over with, tell the people what happened (and treat us all like grown-ups and tell us the truth), and move on. That would put one conspiracy theory in the local blogosphere to rest...that being, that the principal was put on leave for a pocket knife incident. Nothing could be further from the full truth (although, I'm sure that didn't help). Apparently I'm guilty of being a psychic.” 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nembirkow Named Acting Superintendent

Basan Nembirkow has been named acting Superintendent of Southbridge schools.

Nembirkow has been an educator for more than 35 years. He previously headed the 7,500-student Chicopee Public Schools.

From 1996 to 2002, Nembirkow served as Superintendent of Schools in Greenfield, Mass. and was Assistant Superintendent in the 30,000-student Durham, NC School District from 1993 to 1996. He has also held a number of interesting educational posts around the world, among them a 12-year stint at the United Nations International School and an educational consulting post with the Republic of Kazakhstan.

He holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Social Studies from Rowan University and a Master's Degree in Intercultural Education from Rutgers University.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Which Came First…?

Tammy Perreault
On Friday , December 21st, we learned that Southbridge Middle/High School Principal Tammy Perreault had been put on administrative leave.

This fulfilled a prediction made by Dennis Martinek on his blog Speak Out Southbridge. On December 13th he wrote in an article titled “As if things in Southbridge couldn’t get any worse”, “Tomorrow, or early next week, you will hear some rather shocking news that few people I’ve spoken with saw coming.”

In a follow up article published in the same blog today, “Another one bites the dust in Southbridge”, he confirmed that it was Ms. Perreault’s suspension to which he was referring. In response to one commenter on the article he wrote, “This is half of the big news that I was telling you was coming.” To another he wrote, “…I have to say, I knew, but decided to hold-off until something could be verified,..” 

This chronology of events raises a troubling issue.

Sunday Photo-'Toons 1.36

Friday, December 21, 2012

Perreault Put On Administrative Leave As SMHS Principal:

Perreault Placed on Leave As SMHS Principal: Greg Leach Assumes The Position

Ken O'Brien

Initial reports are that Southbridge Middle High School Principal Tammy Perreault has been relieved of her position by temporary acting Superintendent Terry Wiggin. She has been placed on administrative leave.

Reports are that Assistant Principal Greg Leach has been named to fill the role for the time being.

More details will be forthcoming as made available.

UPDATE - Ms. Perreault was escorted from the SMHS premises by temporary acting Superintendent Wiggin and two other central office administrators.

Please take these men off the Nice List, Santa!

Kirstie Pecci
          Art drawn by: Brad Goodwin

Memo From Chichén Itzá

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Tale Of A Table And A (Vice) Chair

Once upon a time there was a railroad depot in downtown Southbridge.

When the railroad no longer came to town somebody said, “That would make a nice central location for our senior citizens to get together.” And so it was. And during the days people got together in the main room and shared their stories. And in another room the men would get together around the pool table for a friendly game.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tea Party Nation Responds To Sandy Hook

I couldn’t make this up.

Tea Party Nation has published, and apparently endorsed, a screed by Timothy Birdnow on how we should respond to the tragedy in Newtown, CT.

One of my favorite nuggets of advice from this piece of scatology says, “Had George Zimmerman been at the front door instead of some mechanical card reader those children would still be alive.” 

Pizza, Palaver and Planning In Southbridge

Todays’ Southbridge News featured a front page article titled “Master plan generates interest, ideas.”

Mark Ashton wrote, “Maybe the timing was finally right, or the stars were properly aligned for a change.
Maybe it was a matter of putting enough information into enough hands in enough offices and organizations that their group efforts could no longer be ignored.
Maybe it was just the free pizza.
Whatever the reason, or reasons, last Wednesday’s Master Plan Visioning Meeting in Southbridge Town Hall drew….nearly a hundred people…”

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Birth Of, And Truth About, The Newest Right Wing Lie

If you are one of the followers of the widely discredited Fox “News” Network, you’ve probably heard the latest distortion of fact.

For those who don’t follow this particular propaganda outlet, the latest exercise in myth making goes like this:

 “Welfare spending per day per household in poverty is $168, which is higher than the $137 median income per day. When broken down per hour, welfare spending per hour per household in poverty is $30.60, which is higher than the $25.03 median income per hour.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Breaking News: Rice Withdraws Name For Secretary Of State

(From MSNBC) Embattled U.N. envoy Susan Rice is dropping out of the running to be the next secretary of state after months of criticism over her Benghazi comments, she told NBC News on Thursday.
“If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly – to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities,” Rice wrote in a letter to President Obama, saying she’s saddened by the partisan politics surrounding her prospects.
“That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country...Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time,” she wrote in the letter obtained by NBC News.
Brian Williams will have an exclusive interview with Rice on tonight’s “Rock Center With Brian Williams” at 10p/9c.

Golden Spike Plans Commercial Moon Flights

The "Golden Spike" was the ceremonial final spike driven by Leland Stanford to join the rails of the First Transcontinental Railroad across the United States connecting the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory.

Now the name has been adopted by a private venture planning to bring commercial lunar travel to reality by the end of the decade.

 The firm is the brainchild of former NASA science chief Alan Stern and Gerry Griffin, a former Apollo flight director and former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

New Studies Show Mixed Results Internationally For U.S. Elementary Education

Following several years of dismal reports on the declining state of American education in the international arena, a new set of studies show mixed signs of progress among elementary school students.

On the bright side, substantial progress has been made in reading levels among fourth graders.

On the other hand, little if any progress has been achieved in science or mathematics at both the fourth grade and eighth grade levels. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Electile Dysfunction?

The Urban Dictionary provides one definition of “electile dysfunction” as, “Failure of the general populace to vote in any given election.”

Apparently the results of last year’s town election are perceived by some as failing to provide a mandate when it comes to the conduct of the Southbridge school committee. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

High School English Teacher Could, Did, Gets Punished

The old bromide is, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

But what can happen when those who teach can and do.

An English teacher at Hoover High School in North Canton, Ohio has admitted to publishing an erotic novel under the pseudonym Deena Bright.

Monday, December 10, 2012

For Politics and Twitter Junkies: The World Leader Twitter Directory

This is a directory of more than 1,100 unique Twitter accounts of world leaders: elected officials, national governments, government representatives and intergovernmental organizations (IGO's) across the globe.

The directory includes the names of national leaders from over 250 governments as well as those of dozens of United Nations and European Union departments and influential intergovernmental organizations in the fields of banking, health, and defense. 

South Carolina Voters Favor Stephen Colbert For Senate

Public Policy Polling, which had the best record in forecasting 2012 election results, has released a new poll showing that South Carolina voters favor Comedy Central host and South Carolina native Stephen Colbert to replace departing Senator Jim DeMint.

DeMint, reportedly the lowest net worth member of the Senate, as well as among the most conservative, announced he will resign from the Senate to head up The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. His predecessor was paid in excess of $1 million last year. 

Collective Onanism?

As those who read The O’Zone are aware, I am not a fan of Master Plans.

To my mind they are nothing more than what the character Alvy Singer in the movie Annie Hall referred to as “mental masturbation.”

This was brought to mind again today by a letter in the Southbridge Evening News titled “Add your voice to Southbridge’s future plans.” It was signed by “SOUTHBRIDGE MASTER PLAN STEERING AND SUBCOMMITTEES AND THE FRIENDS OF THE MASTER PLAN VOLUNTEERS. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

No Holiday For Southbridge School Politics

Political issues within the Southbridge school system continue behind the scenes despite the holiday season. Pending investigations into charges against Superintendent Ely and SMHS Principal Perreault have not held such maneuverings at bay. Anyone who thinks otherwise is sadly misinformed. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Breaking News: Supreme Court Will Take Up Gay Marriage Bans

The Supreme Court will take up California's ban on same-sex marriage, a case that could give the justices the chance to rule on whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.

The justices said Monday they will review a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state's gay marriage ban, though on narrow grounds. The San Francisco-based appeals court said the state could not take away the same-sex marriage right that had been granted by California's Supreme Court. 


The American economy added 146,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Analysts had expected 85,000 jobs to be created. The 7.7 percent unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since December 2008.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Alternative Minimum Tax - Red vs. Blue

Tax filing delay looms if no fix for minimum tax: IRS
IRS Chief Warns Again About AMT Hit

If you aren't familiar with the alternative minimum tax - commonly known by its initials, AMT – you might want to get acquainted with it. Congress created the AMT back in 1969 to make sure that certain high-income citizens couldn't skip out on paying taxes altogether by gaming the system. So under the present regime, you pay either your regular taxes or the AMT (which is essentially a flat rate that eliminates most deductions), whichever is higher. A definite hassle (because you have to calculate your taxes twice), but at least it sounds fair, right? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Trillion Dollar Coin?

As we wind our way toward the fiscal cliff, Republicans are scrambling for a way out of the conundrum they face of not wanting to raise tax rates at all or being confronted with being blamed for raising taxes on all Americans when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the month.

Coupled with that, of course, are the draconian cuts to social programs and the defense budget that would take effect because of the sequestration agreement reached as a result of the 2011 fight over the debt ceiling. 

Mr. Burns Explains The Fiscal Cliff

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Southbridge’s Fiscal Cliff

I have to start with a slight explanation here. The town of Southbridge operates on a July 1 to June 30 Fiscal Year. The state operates on a January 1 to December 31 Fiscal Year. Thus, the state aid numbers in the FY 2013 town budget are derived from the FY 2012 state budget.

That having been said, with the inclusion of the increase of $100,000 in the FY 2013 town budget at last night’s town council meeting it is still $31,001 less than the FY 2012 budget.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Southbridge’s Taxing Council Meeting

Several interesting things came out in the course of last night’s presentation by Principal Town Assessor Wil Cournoyer as well as the vote on the tax rate.

First and foremost was his observation that the new tax rate of $18.47 per thousand was one percent less of an increase than had been forecast in the Town Manager’s FY 2013 Budget Message. The Manager said he projected a tax rate increase of 4.2%* versus an actual increase of 3.6%. Thus the difference was actually 0.6% 

Is There A Difference Between Rice Whines?

“In parliamentary systems it is not uncommon to turn a political nomination -- or even a relatively insignificant bill -- into a way of expressing a lack of confidence in the government or in a major policy. In the United States that is far less common, but … [Republican Senators]  have done precisely that over the nomination of … Rice as secretary of state.”

“They have used it as a vehicle to stake out their opposition to the [initial reporting on Benghazi]. They are likely to pay a heavy political price. In this country, it is customary to allow the president to choose his own Cabinet so long as the nominee is minimally qualified. Rice is superbly qualified, and everyone concedes that.”

I know, I know – typical Liberal knee-jerk response to Republican criticism of Susan Rice’s potential nomination for Secretary of State.

However, in all candor, I’ve cheated. I altered the quote. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Massachusetts State Budget: State Aid to Education

As The O’Zone pointed out yesterday, state aid is a vital component of the town’s budget.

Aid for general government constitutes between 12% and 13% of total non-education expenses.

But this is trivial when compared to the portion of Southbridge’s education budget underwritten by state aid. During the fiscal year at least 71% of the town’s education budget is provided by state funding.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Winter Celebration at QVCAH

Submitted by:

The Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities (QVCAH) is proud to present A Winter Celebration which will be held next weekend, December 7th, 2012 at 111 Main Street in Southbridge, MA.

Come celebrate the Winter Season at the Arts Center on Friday, December 7th from 5- 9 PM! A free family event for all ages with live seasonal violin music by Samantha Gillogly, ice sculpture demonstration by Don Chapelle and Brilliant Ice Sculpture, glassblowing demonstration by Gale Scott and Shaun Conroy courtesy of Worcester Center for Crafts.

The Massachusetts State Budget: Non-Education Local Aid

Southbridge’s FY 2013 non-education budget totals $21,641,836. Of that total, $2,760,518 or 12.8% is projected to come from unrestricted general government local aid from the state. In FY 2012 state aid constituted the same dollar amount, but represented only 12.4% of the town’s non-education budget.

Clearly any funding source that comprises 12% to 13% of the town budget is a matter of serious concern. While it does not rise to anywhere near the $17,650,872 in Chapter 70 funds that underwrite the town’s education budget, 71% of the total, any threat to local aid funding could have dire effects on the town. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Southbridge Town Council Agenda - December 3, 2012




December 3, 2012 – immediately following Public Hearing On FY 2013 Tax Classification and Tax Rate


1. Pledge of Allegiance

2. Roll Call

An Overview Of The FY 2013 Massachusetts Budget

The FY 2013 Massachusetts state budget has been enacted and the spending blueprint for the year is now in place.

There is no revenue from new taxes in the FY 2013 budget. Of all the proposals in this budget process, only the Governor included new taxes—among them an increase in the cigarette tax and an end to the sales tax exemption for candy and soda. None of these taxes was included in the final budget. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Art & Craft Sale: locally made gifts by artisans & crafters

Open 11 am to 7 pm Every Day

Submitted by:
Monika Agnello

The Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities (QVCAH) is proud to present its annual Holiday Art & Craft Sale which will be held next weekend, December 7- 9th, 2012 at 111 Main Street in Southbridge, MA.

Please join us from Noon to 9pm on Friday and 10am to 6pm on Saturday & Sunday when you'll find a huge selection of locally made gifts at the Art Center. 

Stop Susan Rice For Secretary Of State To Re-Elect Scott Brown

A week and a half ago I posted the image on the right as one of The O’Zone’s Sunday Photo-‘Toons.

The obvious implication was that it would be of potentially great benefit to soon-to-be former Senator Scott Brown to have John Kerry appointed Secretary of State because it would allow Brown to run in a special election for that then vacant Senate seat.

Indeed, Kerry was among two names prominently mentioned to succeed Hillary Clinton who has announced her intention to step down. The other name floated was that of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.