Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kamikaze Politics

Ken O'Brien

I never cease to be amazed by the ability of grassroots political efforts in Southbridge to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.

The conduct of the town administration and council majority over the last few months has handed the opposition everything that could be asked for.

In my opinion:

They have demonstrated clearly their toadyism to Casella.

They have violated the U. S. constitution.

They have violated state law.

They have violated the town charter.

They have violated the town bylaws.

They have violated their own council rules.

They have violated the civil rights of at least two citizens.

But rather than focusing on these outrages and recruiting viable opposition candidates; rather than objecting to the cronyism involved in town hiring; rather than opposing the effort to corrupt the town charter; rather than building a coalition to publicize the facts to a larger audience; rather than organizing fund raisers to benefit the defense of those individuals who have been persecuted; rather than staging public demonstrations of outrage we have merely seen the dithering of late night collegiate bull sessions.

No, we once again witness the fragmentation brought about by a small splinter group that seeks to use the occasion to pursue a tangential and legally dubious agenda.

A small group is seeking to hijack the current opportunity to return to their perceived halcyon days of town meetings and a board of selectmen.

Such an effort does its most grievous damage in diluting the focus of current efforts to something only marginally relevant.

But also, even IF such an effort were to succeed, the consequences would be catastrophic.

The current deplorable state of affairs exists because of the ability of the current political power structure to win elections and not merely dominate the council but to also provide a carte blanche majority in support of the town manager's agenda.

How much worse would it be if, rather than having to win at least five seats over two years, they only had to win three selectman seats?

Even more problematic would be their ability to dominate town meetings.

The most recent elections showed their ability to mobilize over a thousand voters to favor their chosen candidates. Town meetings rarely generate turnouts greater than several hundred. How much easier would it be for such a cohesive set of interests to control such an assembly? And with it, they would have an even greater claim to the illusory blessing of democratic endorsement of their policies.

Give up this foolish and wasteful diversion of energy to this dubious agenda.

Abandon your "back to the future" delusions of a one fell swoop, easy, non-solution to the problems at hand.

Return to the here and now and engage in a direct frontal assault upon and combat with the real enemy.


  1. Ken, I couldn't disagree with you more.

  2. Deacon:
    Would you care to elaborate as to what you find incorrect in my critique or meritorious about the initiative proposal?

  3. Ken,
    People probably wonder why I post on a blog in a town that I do not live in. Simple. Southbridge fascinates me. I also admire and respect the two bloggers most responsible for putting forth factual information in this little burg. You and Dennis have done more for your town than merely pulling the curtain back and exposing OZ. You have both tried to make your town a better place to live. You have in your town what I like to call Sideline Cheerleaders. People who for various reasons want to hold group discussions about how to change the town without ever having any skin in the game. “I don’t have time, I work late hours, my husband won’t let me, I like winning awards, yada, yada, yada.” Put up or shut up. Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way, but stop collecting hosannas from the choir and get in the damn game. Bloggers do it every day, and we expose our families to what can only be described as guilt by association every single day. My wife refuses to read the blog as did Dennis’s wife. Southbridge is in trouble and somebody needs to step up and take on the rampant cronyism that is your town. Very rarely do we bloggers get lucky enough to have Disney characters like Nikola, Clemence, and Clark to blog about, and it makes your job easier if someone is NOT working in the best interest of your town, but in the best interest of a garbage company. Why do you think Dennis quit blogging? Because after years of running for office, talking about the town he lives in and cares for, he got little or no support whatsoever. Then when he quit, you all wondered ,” Gee Dennis what happened? We loved the blog.” All he ever cared about was his town and like Ken, rallying support for that same place you all call home. Maybe (and this is going out on the limb here) it is time for the very people calling for change to affect that very same change they seem to want others to aspire to. Changing the charter misses the point, and only makes it easier for questionable people do questionable things. In the end, what do you want for your town? I know a lot of people from running for State Rep in your town and found a lot worth fighting for. Too bad you are all letting the bullies have the playground.

  4. Give it a rest. At the very least the petition is a tangeable attempt at solution and not a retorical device for analysis peralisis Jim Sottile

    1. Jim:
      How much weight do you think that argument would carry with Republicans as a defense of the Affordable Care Act?

    2. And the point is???? Jim Sottile

  5. The point is that your argument is saying that a change is good merely because it is a change. You have yet to show any substantive reason why it would realistically be any better than the current situation.

  6. Jim:

    I’ll elaborate on my criticisms.

    Your petition calls for a Finance committee. But it is appointed by the Board of Selectmen. How would that be an improvement over, for example, a Board of Health appointed by a town council on which the ruling coalition holds a 78% majority? If that coalition can get 7 out of 9 seats under the current charter, why couldn’t they get 3 out of 5 seats under your plan?

    You want a town meeting. But that would be run by an elected Town Moderator. If you can’t elect someone to the town council how would you elect a neutral town moderator?

    You want a town meeting. But if the ruling coalition can defeat a candidate who got over 1,000 votes in the last election, how do you expect to dominate a town meeting that would be exceptional if it got over 400 attendees?

    You want a town administrator rather than a town manager. How would a name change result in any real operational difference if the administrator is still backed up by a compliant majority on the Board of Selectmen?

    Rather than addressing the need to alter the balance of power in town government, you’re merely creating a downright silly wedge issue that will accomplish nothing. At the same time you are distracting attention from the truly consequential issue of the charter changes that are being advanced by the current council majority and the town manager that will further their interests and those of the town manager.

  7. Then why are both Sturbridge and Charlton successful using a town selectmen/town administrator form of government?

    1. Because it has nothing to do with the form of government. Southbridge isn't Sturbridge or Charlton. But I guess I might have to defer to your success as a town council candidate in the past.

    2. Stephanie J DeMartinoMarch 1, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      Your answer made no sense at all. Don't be brash. The petition going around is to change the Town Council/Town Manager form of government to a Town Selectmen/Town Administrator form of government as it was previously. Both Sturbridge and Charlton are successful in this form of government which allows the tax paying citizens the opportunity to vote on the major agenda items of the town. I ran for council twice, the first time I didn't even try, and the second time I only ran to take away votes from Apple. Any more irrational points you would like to make?

    3. Like you make sense. For example your half-baked ignorance about who signed the final report by the Charter Review Committee.

      You constantly shoot from the hip, hitting yourself in the foot.

      Comparing Southbridge to Charlton and Sturbridge goes way beyond comparing apples to oranges.

      Nevertheless, I guess we all have to be grateful for your altruistic self-martyrdom in entering town council races that you now claim to know you would lose. Shouldn’t you apologize to all those people whose time you wasted in getting to sign your superfluous petitions? Heaven knows you never missed an opportunity to grab the media spotlight.

  8. Afternoon Ken
    Wow I cant get over the comment Mr Sottile had about giving it a rest. Here is Mr give the people a say making a comment as he did. It just goes to show you the actual person he is. When you don't agree with him just be quiet. But if you agree you are all set. That's the problem with Mr Sottile and his small band of activist. He/they and his small group always complain about everything government does. He suggest all kinds of things to do but does little about it or goes off to another complaint. The citizens of Southbridge are well aware with his type of politics and will never support him. Mr. Sottile and Mr. Marino want a change to a selectmen/town meeting form of government did they forget about the former select group that went by the name of the 3 B's. I am sure you remember. Talk about dirty politics. Much easier to rig the game when you only need 3 but that's what they want. A town meeting, my god you cant get voters to council meetings on important issues such as tax and sewer increases, you only get Mr Sottile and his small group. But I will say that when the Police and Fire Departments want a raise you will get to see all of their wives,husbands,son,daughters and the rest of their families to support these issues and get the raise they want. Mr. Sottile is the one that should give it a rest and maybe he should wake up and smell the coffee. Ken your approach is much better and I think the citizen would support your ideas. Concerning Ms DeMartinos comment about Sturbridge and Charlton I guess she doesn't remember when they had to delay town meetings because of the lack of people attending and when they had to recess meetings because the voters went home. Ken keep up the good work and watch your back. Keep your friends close but keep the DEVIL closer.

  9. ONE OF THE CONSTANTS IN THE UNIVERSE IS THAT ALL MATTER FALLS INTO DISORDER. We do not need to give disorder purchase to continue our downward slide anymore then we presently have with with the bickersons in our town. The government should have the ability to use expertise they need to provide an orderly stable platform to help the citizen make informed choices. Jim Sottile

    1. In other words, you can’t mount any kind of defense of this ill-conceived crusade.

    2. An alternative response that will only be appreciated by science nerds would be, “Entropy ain’t what it used to be and neither is Southbridge. Bringing back a forty year old form of government won’t change society any more than bringing back forty year old physics books will reverse entropy”.

  10. Defend a democratic process???? The bottom line is the people make more decisions controlling their destiny in the new process. It has to be a better way. I have no other defense....
    Jim Sottile

    1. The reductio ad absurdum of that argument would be to have a referendum on every contested issue. Look how well that’s worked for California.

    2. With all due respect, Jim, you should stick to testifying about train wrecks rather than causing one.

  11. Ouch! Did I run over your foot? The desire for a government that works is not a felony.
    Jim Sottile

    1. Jim, the fact is that all you’ve offered is platitudes. You haven’t made one substantial defense against any of my specific criticisms.

    2. Just wondering why Anonymous is Jim Sottile? Jim, you have to be one or the other!

      I just saw this extensive trail now...wow, what a lot of good comments. This kind of dialogue is actually helpful, if people do more than talk.

      You're doing a great job, Ken...and Bob, I loved your posts here.

  12. All that this proposal will accomplish is to give Clark a justification to spend another $200,000 to clean up another snow job.

  13. You said you signed the petition, do you want me to take the signature off the petition? I believe it may be appropriate to do so to preserve the substance of your debate. Thanks for the opportunity to publish my effort today.
    Jim Sottile

    1. As Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    2. Southbridge is the newest tombstone in this country.
      no real tax base, a lack of jobs,out of control
      tax rate and outrageous water and sewer rates. Just wait until the "real cost" of the new school hits tax payers. the gang of seven on the town council and the out of town administrator have sold us out to a trash company. It's already tooooooo late.

  14. Right Ken, Voltaire in a "bizarro" world. “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it, PREPARE TO DIE!" You could've at least waited until the petition made it on the ballot before you started trashing it. Sounds hypocritical to me. You signed the petition, but you're trying your best to make sure no one else does. Plus your argument is weak. Because so few vote at general elections, the residents shouldn't be allowed to vote at town meetings? What's stopping you from getting people out to vote? A fundraiser to benefit those people who have been persecuted? What's stopping you from organizing such an event? Calling this a collegiate bull session by a splinter group. It's only bull if they don't follow through with what they propose, and the entire group is engaged. It seems to me you are trying to splinter the group. Your advice to build coalitions sounds hollow, when you trash the very people you should be supporting. I'd say Jim and Joe are the real deal. Their solution may not be a perfect one, but at least they are trying.

    1. Mike:
      First, as regards organizing a fundraiser, I did try to do just that. I only got four positive responses to a request I sent out to try to do so. Only one person agreed to participate in a follow up meeting.
      Second, by your logic that I should hold my criticisms until the proposals get on the ballot, then I should also hold my criticisms of the council’s proposed charter amendments until the legislature votes to authorize them to go on the ballot as well.

  15. Ken
    As I said yesterday when the issue doesn't suit the very small naysayers you will get it in the back. Mike is part of that small group. They don't report on anything that may be good, they will criticize everything that the unlike does such as the Christmas Lights. Just because who they are. At least you say what you have to agreeing or not. You still allow both sides to be heard. I also know that if you say it, you say it in front of them or when they are away makes no difference if you say it you will stand by it. You also back up what you say with FACTS and common sense. I have seen these people in action and at times I see people walk away shaking their heads and also in FEAR. In a group they intimidate,they get in peoples faces and I even seen one of them throw a shirt a person during the BOH hearings. That is why the citizens of Southbridge will not support them in their quest to go back to Selectmen/Town meeting form of government. We are much better off with the form of government that we have than the way they want it. Can you imagine the chaos at a town meeting when they get up to speak. You think Gotham needs help now. Get the BAT LIGHT ready.

    1. The fact of the matter is that I published an article almost identical to this under the title “Suicide Pact” on Dennis Martinek’s Speak Out Southbridge at the beginning of November 2011.

  16. Totally different topic, but has anyone read the Legal section of the Feb. 28 Southbridge Evening News? The first item ... Randal Morse ... foreclosure of his North Woodstock Road property ... is that Morse Farm?

    By virtue and in execution of the Power of
    Sale contained in a certain mortgage given
    by Randal W. Morse to Farm Credit, ACA
    f/k/a First Pioneer Farm Credit, ACA said
    mortgage being dated December 4, 2007,
    and recorded in the Worcester County
    Registry of Deeds in Book 42161, Page 222,
    which mortgage the undersigned is the present
    holder for breach of the conditions of said
    mortgage and for the purpose of foreclosing,
    the same will be sold at Public Auction at
    10:00 o’clock AM on March 20, 2012, upon
    the premises described in said mortgage,
    namely 993 North Woodstock Road,
    Southbridge, Worcester County,
    Massachusetts (hereinafter sometimes the
    “Mortgaged Property”), all and singular the
    Mortgaged Property described in said mortgage,
    to wit:
    “The land on North Woodstock Road,,
    Southbridge, Worcester County,
    Massachusetts bounded as follows:
    Beginning at an iron pipe on the westerly
    side of the 1926 Worcester County highway
    layout of North Woodstock Road, at the
    northeast corner of tract herein described,
    said pipe being 81.09 feet southerly of a
    Worcester County Highway bound opposite
    station 63 + 36;
    Thence S. 4° 39’ 40” W. along the westerly
    side of North Woodstock Road, a distance of
    300.00 feet to an iron pipe;
    Thence N. 85° 20’ W. along land of grantors,
    Curran, Dewhirst and Gilleo, a distance of
    300.00 feet to a point;
    Thence N. 4° 39’ 40” E. along land of said
    grantors, a distance of 300.00 feet to a point;
    Thence S. 85° 20’ 20” E. along land of said
    grantors, a distance of 300.00 feet to the iron
    pipe at the point of beginning.
    Containing an area of 2.066 acres.
    Said premises are conveyed subject to the
    restrictive covenant that not more than two
    residences will be erected or maintained on
    the above-described premises; the effect, if
    any, of the following encumbrances; rights of
    flowage of Morse Pond on the premises,
    flowage rights recited in Book 360, Page 419
    and Book 761, Page 108, and reservation in
    regard to flowage recorded in the Woodstock
    Registry of Deeds, Book 29, Page 619;
    license to take water from a spring received
    in Book 1948, page 382; right of way recited
    in deed in Book 5396, Page 35; agreement
    not to let the water down to the injury of holding
    land below the saw-mill after the 15th of
    April of each year received in Book 5396,
    Page 31.
    Being the same premises conveyed to
    Randal W. Morse by deed recorded in the
    Worcester County Registry of Deeds in Book
    33331, Page 32.”
    Said Mortgaged Property will be sold subject
    to and/or with the benefit of any and all
    restrictions, easements, improvements,
    covenants, outstanding tax title, municipal or
    other public taxes, assessments, liens or
    claims in the nature of liens, rights of parties
    in possession, and existing encumbrances of
    record created prior to the mortgage, if any
    there be and also to all laws and ordinances
    including, but not limited to, all building and
    zoning laws and ordinances, all permits and
    approvals granted in connection with the
    Mortgaged Property, and also to all rights of
    the public or rights of the state or federal government
    or their subdivisions arising as a
    matter of, or under, any law.
    No representations, express or implied, are
    made with respect to any matter concerning
    the Mortgaged Property which will be sold
    “as is”.
    The successful high bidder will be responsible
    for paying the Massachusetts State
    Documentary Tax Stamps, all closing costs
    and all recording fees.

  18. TERMS OF SALE: The highest bidder in the
    sale shall be required to deposit cash, bank
    treasurer’s check or certified check in the
    ($5,000.00) at the time and place of the sale
    of the Mortgaged Property to qualify as a bidder
    (the present holder of the mortgage is
    exempt from this requirement) to be held by
    the Mortgagee. The successful bidder will
    also be required to deposit a sum equal to
    ten percent (10%) of the amount bid (less the
    $5,000.00 deposit) with the Mortgagee’s auctioneer,
    Phil Jacquier, Inc., 18 Klaus
    Anderson Road, Southwick, MA 01077 within
    five (5) days of the date of the sale, to be
    paid in cash, certified or bank treasurer’s
    check and the balance of the purchase price
    shall be paid in cash, certified or bank treasurer’s
    check at the closing which shall occur
    within thirty (30) days after the date of foreclosure
    sale, time being of the essence,
    unless the Mortgagee agrees otherwise. The
    successful bidder at the sale shall be
    required to sign a Memorandum of Terms of
    Sale containing the above terms at the auction
    In the event that the successful bidder at the
    public auction shall default in purchasing the
    within described Mortgaged Property according
    to the terms of this Notice of Mortgagee’s
    Sale and/or the terms of the Memorandum of
    Terms of Sale executed at the public auction,
    the Mortgagee reserves the right, at its election,
    to sell the property to the second highest
    bidder at the public auction provided that
    Mortgagee, in its discretion, may require (1)
    said second highest bidder to deposit the
    amount of the required deposit as set forth
    herein within three (3) business days after
    written notice to the second highest bidder of
    the default of the previous highest bidder, (2)
    the second highest bidder to execute a
    Memorandum of Terms of Sale, and (3) the
    closing to occur within twenty (20) days of
    said written notice, time being of the essence
    unless the Mortgagee agrees otherwise. The
    Mortgagee reserves the right to postpone
    this sale to a later time or date by public
    proclamation at the time and date appointed
    for the sale and to further postpone any
    adjourned sale date by public proclamation
    at the time and date appointed for the
    adjourned sale date.
    Other terms, if any, to be announced at the
    time and place of the sale.
    The description for the Mortgaged Property
    contained in said mortgage shall control in
    the event of a typographical error in this publication.
    Present Holder of said Mortgage
    By _____________________
    Francis R. Mirkin, its Attorney
    33 State Street
    Springfield, MA 01103
    Tele: (413) 781-0560
    Email: fmirkin@baconwilson.com
    February 28, 2012
    March 6, 2012
    March 13, 2012

  19. Hey it just goes to so that times are tough....to bad for Mr Morse...he has always been a hard working hopefully things turn out ok for him

  20. In the end, it really doesn't matter, and I'll bet one million dollars that at the end of the day, one side will win (I only make easy bets, since only one side will "win").

    Let it go to the ballot, and at the end of the election, we'll see who's right.

    Like Ken, I would sign it, as I support someone's right to try just about anything. I say that, though, knowing I wouldn't support it.

    That doesn't make me a hypocrite. It makes me someone that is open to people trying.

    The bigger failure I see at the ballot box will be the re-election of the incumbents, since there is seemingly no focus on that. If I hear "it's too early" one more time I'll throw up.

    If you're not thinking about it since last year, you're doomed to failure.

  21. Ken,

    The Town of Southbridge has been on a fairly steady path of decline for at least thirty years. Very few other communities have had such a hard run without hitting bottom. I find it difficult to believe that this isn't at least in part systemic. Many, many communities across New England use the selectman form of government with varying degrees of success. What you rarely see, however is a small town adopting a council manager form of government as we have done. I agree with the following statement you made:

    "The current deplorable state of affairs exists because of the ability of the current political power structure to win elections and not merely dominate the council but to also provide a carte blanche majority in support of the town manager's agenda."

    So what is the reason for this? I believe it is a combination of our form of government (one suited for much larger communities) and our steadily decreasing population. Take a look at the chart below and compare what is happening in Southbridge with the rest of the State:


    What we now have is a very big and well-paid government, running a very small, poor town. Because there are so many employed by either the town, or contracted for services through our various departments, the voting bloc for these interests represents a substantial percentage of the dwindling populace. The survival of this cash flow to salaries and contracts is dependent on the sustainment of the status quo. Thus family, friends and employees of "The Town" are reluctant to make changes unless those actions create more income. Add to this that we have such a high percentage of government subsidized, absentee landlords and transient tenants and it is hard to mount a significant enough opposition to this user driven agenda. There is apathy in absentia.

    Why are things so especially bad now? One word: "Landfill". By allowing Casella to come in and essentially run our town hall, cronyism has been given the green light to fester and bloom. One of the tools often employed in this corruption is the calculated voting pattern of the current Town Council wherein a different councilor or two will miss a meeting or vote "against the grain" to obscure the common shadow agenda. A five person selectman form of government makes this very difficult. Selectman have to own their decisions and bear the responsibility for a town administrator's actions much more than in a councilor manager form of government. The same is true of the finance committee--they look bad as individuals if they can't keep spending under control. In both cases, it is much easier to pressure out the members of a government when failures are evident. With the town meeting format and the requisite warrants for spending and appropriation, the citizens also have a much greater say in what decisions are made and how their money is spent.
    As you have advocated for in the past with regard to a mayoral form of government, Mr. Marino's initiative petition requires the incoming administrator to move to the town within six months. He also will be presumably paid substantially less and this is very significant, because the entire government can gradually be revamped to reflect a more modest pay structure. These changes can eliminate our current employment of expensive carpetbaggers who don't have any "skin in the game". We can return to the days of local department heads who have to share our grocery stores and streets. I don't think this is a fairy tale situation. The selectman administrator form of government has worked well for many communities and brought many decaying mill towns across New England back through local control and sound economic growth. I cannot find a single example of our current form of government showing any such success in a town the size of Southbridge.

    1. Deacon:
      Thanks for a cogent and intelligent presentation.
      I'll summarize my response to your case by invoking the case of Greenfield, in many cases a fairly good match for Southbridge several years ago, which has prospered substantially since it adopted a council/mayor form of government several years ago.
      I have yet to be shown a case where a community made the type of change being proposed in this petition or an example of such a change being salutary.

  22. The case of Southbridge is quite unique. I don't believe the return to a selectman administrator should be regarded as a change, but rather a correction after a long, failed experiment.

    Greenfield did not suffer from being a landfill community, nor was it rampant with corruption. Greenfield was also the beneficiary of an exodus of small business owners and artists who were priced out of the Northampton/Amherst area. Several other smaller towns in their area, such as the two Falls had already set the wheels of restoration in motion.

    A council mayor government could also work here, though I would be more leery of fast tracking to this form out of our current state. A mayor is more expensive, wields much more authority and influence than an administrator and until the landfill influence has been neutralized, I'd rather see Marino's proposal come to fruition.

  23. First Greenfield did have a landfill legacy. See:

    Second, on what do you base the assumption that a mayor is more expensive? If you go to Greenfield's official town website you'll see that their budget is equivalent to ours.

    As regards the issue of corruption, can that be substantiated or dismissed for either community?

    Finally, the exodus you speak of was contemporary with Greenfield's adoption of the council/mayor form of government in 2003. Any cause and effect assumptions are speculative but cannot be ruled out.

    1. Ken,

      Please, the Greenfield landfill was municipal, not regional and covered a meager 23 acres. It is now being developed as a solar farm. Failure to understand the amount of money involved in the Southbridge landfill and the historic tactics of the waste industry in New England dooms one to failure in understanding our own situation.

      Second, our budget is too high and far too much goes toward bloated salaries. Greenfield, by comparison pays their officials substantially less. Both their mayor and fire chief make around 70k, which is about what we pay our librarian. I would like to see an administrator hired here who is paid substantially less than that and who resides within the town.

      I speak to both the corruption and the exodus based on personal experience and the numerous friends and acquaintances I have who moved their businesses to Greenfield. I know what motivated them to move, and it wasn't a mayor. It was the low cost of real estate and the heavily invested development of viable commercial space, mostly through refurbishment and renovation. These features, combined with a solid customer base within driving distance were very attractive to many businesses.

      A mayoral form of government was a better option for Greenfield than it is for us because we have a much more serious problem than they did. Our landfill debacle is monumental to any significant change and until it is resolved, it is unwise to consolidate power in the hands of a few. The warrant structure in Marino's plan can be effectively used by the people as a restraint against poor decision making.

      Our current form of government is the reason we have the highest paid officials in the state for a town our size and wealth per capita. It is also the reason we have the largest landfill in the state moving in without the decision coming before the voters. Neither of these conditions would exist under Marino's plan, and it is for this reason that I support it.

    2. You are simply making assertions, two of which have already been proven to be inaccurate.

      On what basis are we to assume that your current assertions are any more credible?

    3. Which of my assertions have been proven inaccurate?

    4. “Greenfield did not suffer from being a landfill community,…”
      “A mayor is more expensive,…”

    5. Ken, a town with a municipal landfill is not a "landfill community". The hosting of a regional landfill is the commonly understood distinction.

      Please show me the data that suggests a mayor working with a town council is a less expensive than a town administrator working with selectmen? You have agreed that a mayor is a more powerful figure. Are you suggesting that mayors take on more responsibility for less pay. I haven't researched that data, but doubt you are correct. I certainly haven't seen anything "proven". The only references I can find suggest an average Massachusetts mayoral salary at $71k and admin at 59k.

      It is clear you are against the selectman administrator form of government, but I really don't see how keeping things status quo and attempting to regain seats in the current government is preferable. I have seen a council change majority positions many times here with little sign of improvement. I think you are being overly dismissive of the potential for positive change that could be achieved by using a more widely accepted government for a town of our size and makeup. I am not making blind assertions, only suggesting an arrangement that I think would be better for this community.

    6. You made two assertions as absolutes. Now you are redefining the first and ignoring the evidence I provided for the second.

      Your parsing of the word landfill community illustrates the fact that the initial comment was misleading and therefore inaccurate.

      As regarding the second comment, I directed you to the budget for the town of Greenfield which for FY 2012 is 40.7 million, not in any way out of line with our own.

    7. As regards why I oppose this change as being nothing more than cosmetic and a change for the sake of change that will result in nothing more than a diversion, I have made those arguments elsewhere in these comments, as someone else phrased it, “ad nauseam”.

    8. Once again Ken, our budget is too high. If you are fine with the current spending, then by all means use Greenfield as your example. I'd like to see drastic cuts in spending and offsetting reductions in taxes, water rates, sewer rates and town hall salaries. We are selling off our resources and devaluing and beating up on our struggling citizen's incomes to pay for our Greenfield equivalent budget. I'd like to see a town administrator hired for about $20,000 less than Greenfield pays their mayor.

      The 23 acre Greenfield landfill was closed and capped in 1999, prior to the adopting of a mayor. If you can't understand the difference between that and what we've got here, then I can't see any reason to continue this debate.

    9. This Mr O'Brien thanks you for an intelligent response answers your points with logic and you then insult him because he's made good points.

      I've seen some of your other comments and I think you're rude to people who disagree with you.

  24. You can find the Greenfield website at:

  25. The remaining issue is the fact that a mayor is accorded more power and authority than a town manager or administrator.
    What you see as a negative, I see as an advantage.
    Coupled with that increased influence is much greater accountability. Unlike the other two who are shielded by the diffuse responsibility resulting from an unelected status where blame devolves to a council or board of selectmen majority, a mayor is directly answerable to the public as an elected official.
    This accountability is accompanied by a need to offer a unified and pragmatic agenda that must, in practice, yield results beyond mere campaign rhetoric and platitudes.
    Mr. Marino’s proposal would only further dilute accountability. I believe that I have persuasively illustrated that a town meeting could easily be dominated by the same forces that can turn out a voting majority of much greater size in an annual election. However, recourse to assigning responsibility for decisions to such an assembly would further insulate a town administrator from direct accountability.

  26. Having said all that, I return to my basic point.

    This whole exercise is a non-productive diversion from the immediate need to elect three members to the town council that will change the prevailing agenda in the next election.

    1. aka Jester

      @ Ken O’Brien

      Sir, you have written the Truth! The next election is Key! What Southbridge is currently and/or has been experiencing is purely UNSUSTAINABLE!

  27. Ken has stated his position here ad nauseam. I say it makes no difference who we elect to the town council. Now we have a 7-2 majority which votes with the town manager. Our tax rates go up, our water and sewer rates go up, spending is out of control. Before we had a 5-4 majority against the town manager. Our tax rates went up, our water and sewer rates went up, spending was out of control. With a selectmen form of government the residents get to vote on the budget, not let the town manager dictate. I hear a lot of talk about what we need to do, but I don't see a lot of action. This petition is simply to let the residents decide.

  28. Mike:
    Excuse me, “ad nauseam”.

    I have responded to the criticisms of my position.

    If that is “ad nauseam” then it indicates a belief that if you disagree and can present a factual basis for your disagreement, you should nevertheless shut up.

    Everything you have said about the financial consequences to the community have to do with the ability of the ruling majority to support and vote for them.

    You have failed in showing that your proposal would change things in any meaningful way.

    Apparently you are so wedded to this proposal that you cannot be persuaded to accept or refute reason and fact that demonstrates it is nothing more than a desperate effort to propose change for the sake of change.


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