Saturday, March 31, 2012

Is Ely Moving On?

Ken O’Brien

Less than two years after succeeding Dale Hanley as Southbridge School Superintendent, Eric Ely is apparently seeking greener pastures.

According to, Mr. Ely is among ten semifinalists for Director of the Roane County school district in Tennessee.

We Don’t Need No Stinking Rules

Ken O’Brien

As we are all well aware, the town manager has appointed former Southbridge Evening News Editor Walter Bird as Director of the town’s Recreation Committee.

It was formally announced in the Southbridge Evening News of February 16, 2012.

The O’Zone had reported that this appointment was in the offing on two occasions prior to the official announcement.

In both of those articles I raised the question why this appointment could be made when the current town bylaws read as follows: 

Friday, March 30, 2012

To Protect and Serve?

Ken O’Brien

Today’s Worcester Telegram and Gazette carried an article by Brian Lee titled “Southbridge issues flurry of winter parking tickets despite mild season”.

In that article we learned that during this “winter” the Southbridge police had issued 355 tickets for violation of the alternate side of the street parking ban meant to facilitate snow plowing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shoot 'Em Up Charlie

See Alec Exposed

See my prior article "Smart ALEC"

See also Jim Gonyea’s articles on his blog Notes To Leicester, specifically American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and  Corporate Influence in Politics.

Everything Old Is New Again: A Video Essay

Ken O’Brien

Talking by conference call with thousands of Wisconsin voters Wednesday, Mitt Romney told them he had a humorous connection to their state.

Romney’s story involved the time more than 50 years ago that his father, George, an American Motors executive, shut down a factory in Michigan and moved the work to Wisconsin.

Monday, March 26, 2012

You Can’t Fight Southbridge Town Hall: They Have Your Tax Dollars For Ammunition

Ken O’Brien

William Gladstone famously observed that, “Justice delayed, is justice denied.”

Back in February The O’Zone carried an article titled, “If You Can’t Beat’em, Bleed’em”.

At that time I was addressing the tactics being employed by attorneys for the town of Southbridge to delay a decision in a case mounted by citizens of this community to challenge the obviously absurd position that a town bylaw can take precedence over the town’s Home Rule Charter.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Can The Government Compel You To Buy Something?

Ken O’Brien

Central to the opposition to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is whether the government can compel citizens to purchase a good or service.

Set aside all the legal issues about the Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8 of the U. S. Constitution).

The Tea Party yahoos, led by their champions Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman, financed by the Koch brothers and Dick Armey and enabled by Fox News, launched into their hysteria shortly after the signing of the Affordable Care Act. 

The Amoral Basis of Contemporary Conservatism

Ken O’Brien

Ayn Rand, author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged is extolled as the touchstone of contemporary conservative economic and social thought. Perhaps those who feel that their religious beliefs are intimately tied to and reinforced by political conservatism should learn a little more about the patron “saint” of the cause they so blindly espouse


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lazos Targeted Again

Ken O'Brien

Last Thursday night another act of vandalism marred the town of Southbridge.

The tavern that the Lazo family has been working to open on Mill Street was targeted by vandals who broke all the windows in the the establishment undergoing renovation with plans to open in the near future.

Will The Supreme Court Sidestep The Constitutionality of Obamacare?

Ken O’Brien

Almost overlooked in all of the hyperventilating from both sides regarding the Supreme Court’s hearing on the Affordable Care Act is the focus of the first day of proceedings.

Monday’s hearing will be devoted to the applicability of an obscure 1867 law called the Anti-Injunction Act.


Republicans Use Commerce Clause to Justify Their Own Health Care Legislation

Ken O’Brien

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court will begin an unprecedented three days of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

One of the key components of the Act is the “individual mandate” requiring all citizens to have health insurance.

In the prior week the Republican-dominated House of Representatives found themselves on the edge of an abyss that would have undermined the challenge of this component of the Act.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Southbridge Town Council Agenda - March 26, 2012

Prop 2 ½ Override, Town Manager’s Budget Message

MARCH 26, 2012 – 7:00 PM
1. Pledge of Allegiance

2. Roll Call

3. Consider and accept the Council Minutes of Monday, March 12, 2012 Meeting

4. Subcommittee Reports:
(a) General Government
(b) D.P.W.
(c) Education and Human Services
(d) Planning and Development
(e) Protection of Persons and Property

5. Chairwoman’s Announcements

6. Town Manager’s Announcements

7. Swearing In / Presentation
a) Presentation – FY 2013 Budget Message, Christopher Clark, Town Manager

8. Citizens Forum

Thursday, March 22, 2012

FACT CHECK: More US drilling didn't drop gas price

As readers of The O’Zone know, with the exception of contributions by guest writers, I prepare my own material.

However, given all the puffery that has surrounded the issue of gas prices, I feel that it is important to give as wide as possible circulation to this report from The Associated Press.  It can only be hoped that most sensible people will see this as an objective analysis with no particular ideological bias.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Presenting The Republican Nominee For President: An Empty Suit!

Ken O’Brien

Anti-Incumbent Derangement Syndrome (AIDS) has reached its absolute peak in the Republican Presidential campaign.

In their all-out effort to defeat incumbent President Barack Obama, today saw the dropping of any last vestiges of integrity or principle. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Breaking News: Clemence and Livengood Take Out Nomination Paper for Southbridge Town Council

Ken O’Brien

The headline says it all.

Conangate: Scott Brown Steals Santorum Joke from Conan O’Brien (VIDEO)

Ken O’Brien

Speaking at South Boston’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, Senator Scott Brown delivered a couple of customary zingers:

Unfortunately, his joke about Senator Rick Santorum was strangely derivative (some would say stolen). Watch the following late February monologue from Conan O’Brien (skip ahead to the 3 minute mark).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

UPDATE: Is Southbridge Being Hyde-Jacked?

Updated at 8 am, 3/19: Hyde spokesman admits “some work” going to Canada.

Ken O’Brien

Nine days ago The O’Zone published an article titled, “Is Hyde Mfg. Moving Jobs To Canada?”

Yesterday The O’Zone published a follow-up piece titled, “Is Southbridge Being Hyde-Jacked?

In both articles I was quite straightforward in saying that what I was reporting was based on anecdotal information from current and former employees of the company.

In addition I indicated that, rather than having any animosity toward the firm, it had a warm place in my heart.

However, the company is a foundation of what remains of employment in Southbridge as well as its industrial base.

So, given these factors, I was seeking any kind of denial that what I had been told and was therefore reporting lacked substance.

In what is now bordering on a week and a half there has been no such denial. 

----Bill O’Reilly’s Solution to High Gas Prices---- Another Triumph of Demagoguery over Fact

Ken O’Brien

America’s Prince of Pomposity has struck once again.

Citing a fact that I have repeated on numerous occasions, specifically that the United States has become a net exporter of refined fuels such as gasoline, diesel and airline fuel, Mr. “Looking Out For You” has a solution.

His panacea, the U. S should impose a tax on the export of  U. S. oil and refined fuels.

Watch the following video:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Is Southbridge Being Hyde-Jacked?

Ken O’Brien

Southbridge Town Council Vice Chair Denise Clemence
Contrary to what, at this point, may be a prevailing opinion, I have no bias against the local company Hyde Manufacturing.

In point of fact, the prior scion of that family, Robert U. Clemence, extended to me a great kindness.

Back in the days that probably precede those which most readers of The O’Zone can remember, I was a Senior at what was then Marianhill Central Catholic High School.

That was 1968-69.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Iran Bluster and Gas Prices

Ken O’Brien

Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has taken two contradictory positions on two critical issues. One is in the area of domestic energy prices and the other is in the area of foreign policy.

Gingrich has recently promised that under his Presidency he would return America to $2.50 per gallon gasoline.

On the other hand he has pledged to participate in a joint military action with Israel to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear capability.

A recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations demonstrates the total inconsistency of these two positions. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Responses to Southbridge’s Rush Limbaugh Wannabe

Ken O’Brien

For reasons of copyright I cannot reproduce Mike Marketti’s cartoon from the Southbridge Evening News of March 14th.

Suffice it to say that it portrayed me, Town Councilor Laurent McDonald and Dennis Martinek as the three stooges trampling his beloved and fatally flawed petition to restore Southbridge to a Town Meeting/Board of Selectmen form of government.

It also showed our town manager reveling in the dissension among those who oppose him. 

Let's Close The Book On This Town Meeting Petition

Ken O’Brien

The proponents of the petition to return Southbridge to a Town Meeting/Board of Selectmen form of government repeatedly cite the 1979 Appeals Court Decision in Marino v. Southbridge as the legal basis of their case.

In that case, the court stated:

7 Mass. App. Ct. 461
February 15, 1979 - April 25, 1979
Worcester County

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rising Tide of Thefts Launch Police Clean Up

Ken O’Brien

Concerns about illegal money laundering have taken an ironic turn

Police across the country have reported a rash of thefts of Tide laundry detergent.

Apparently the market leading Procter and Gamble product has become a widely accepted medium of exchange among street criminals.

The Daily reports, “One Tide thief in West St. Paul, Minn., stole $25,000 of the product over 15 months before he was arrested last year.” 

Government of the Apathetic, by the Pathetic, for the Aristocratic

As quoted from the alternative universe, President A. Blinkin

Ken O’Brien

The great Hispanic American George Santayana observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

An historical figure who has, for me, always been an exemplar of civic virtue is a little known individual named Cincinnatus. He is cited frequently as the historical template for George Washington’s decision to withdraw from politics after two terms as President.

The recent debate over the plan to return to a town meeting/board of selectmen form of government has reminded me of this.

As both the case of Cincinnatus and George Washington illustrate, in a time of crisis strong executive leadership is needed. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Southbridge Town Council Agenda For March 12

MARCH 12, 2012 – 7:00 PM
1. Pledge of Allegiance

2. Roll Call

3. Consider and accept the Council Minutes of Monday, February 27, 2012 Meeting

4. Subcommittee Reports:
(a) General Government
(b) D.P.W.
(c) Education and Human Services
(d) Planning and Development
(e) Protection of Persons and Property

5. Chairwoman’s Announcements

6. Town Manager’s Announcements

Christian America – Part II

Ken O’Brien

On February 24th I published a response to a letter in the Southbridge Evening News by Mr. Bob Chernisky that made the assertion that the United States of America was founded as a Christian Nation.

In the March 6th edition of that paper he posted the following reply:

To the Editor:
Mr. O’Brien, you corrected me the other day by quoting John Adams and using that quote to summarize that this is not a Christian nation.

I appreciate your attention to detail and your desire to keep the facts straight. I disagree with you still, though. Please allow me to explain why.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Poll Indicates “NO” on Town Meeting Plan: Timeline Also A Problem

Ken O’Brien

After a weeklong poll asking O’Zone readers their opinion on a proposal to return Southbridge to a Town Meeting/Board of Selectmen the results are in.

By a margin of three to two participants in the poll voted against the plan.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Is Hyde Mfg. Moving Jobs To Canada?

Ken O’Brien

This is a question.

I am unable to substantiate it, and I will admit that.

But, I have it from sources that, in the past, have been proven to be reliable, that Hyde Tools, a long-time basis of Southbridge employment has already shipped equipment from its Southbridge facility to Canada with jobs to follow.

Breaking News: February Jobs Report - 227,000 jobs created

Ken O'Brien

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in February the U.S Economy created 227,000 new private sector jobs.

The only sectors of the economy that lost jobs were construction and retail.

The January jobs number was revised upward by 50,000 additional private sector jobs created.

The unemployment rate remained at 8.3%.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Martha Coakley Gives Oral Hex

Ken O’Brien

According to the official website of the Office of The Massachusetts Attorney General, “Attorney General Martha Coakley is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

In that regard, Ms. Coakley is responsible for the actions of her numerous functionaries, especially when it comes to their actions in that official capacity as the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth.

This fact has become especially relevant in regard to the amendments to the Home Rule Charter of the town of Southbridge that are now pending before the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

People Versus The Machine In Southbridge

Ken O’Brien

On February 29 a hearing was held before the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government on H. 3900.

This bill would authorize the Town of Southbridge to place on the June ballot the changes to the town Home Rule Charter approved by the Southbridge Town Council.

At that hearing State Representative Peter Durant appeared in support of the bill.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Romney’s Health Issue

Ken O’Brien

No single issue has been a greater focus of those who oppose the Obama Administration than the Affordable Care Act (ACA), frequently referred to as “Obamacare”.

It can be credibly argued that this was the issue that gave birth to the “Tea Party” movement in concert with claims of “death panels” and the “government takeover of healthcare”. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sleeper Tuesday In Massachusetts?

Ken O’Brien

While the talking heads on the various 24 hour news channels trumpet the potential cataclysmic effects of tomorrow’s primary elections in eleven states, the local press has virtually ignored the fact that Massachusetts is one of those eleven states.

Locally there are no contests on the ballot in the Democratic primary.

Update On Render Rush Impotent
Rush issues incredibly weak apology. Scroll down for more, including the response from Sandra Fluke (video below) and the response from Krystal Ball of BoycottRush. org. And KEEP UP THE PRESSURE! This is clearly working, and a weak apology after a three-day anti-woman tirade is far from enough. Keep it going! We're surging towards 100,000 supporters! Spread the word, and tell people to visit us here at 

Send a message to Rush Limbaugh's advertisers:  Tell them it's time to stop supporting his anti-woman hate speech.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

How Do You Feel?

Ken O’Brien

For the last week we’ve had a raging debate about the initiative petition being circulated to return Southbridge to a Selectman/Town Meeting form of government.

Now The O’Zone is going to give you an opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

On the right you will see a poll which will give you the opportunity to vote yes or no on whether this proposal should be adopted (assuming it gets on the June ballot).

We will leave the voting open for a week.

As in the past we request that only Southbridge residents who are of legal voting age participate in the poll.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Render Rush Impotent
That Bilious Bigoted Ball of Blubber has finally gone too far.

Of course I’m referring to Rush Limbaugh.

His characterizations of a female Law School student at Georgetown University as a slut and a prostitute have crossed every line of decency.

A short time ago she was prohibited by Republican Committee chairman Darrell Issa from appearing before his committee while an all-male panel discussed the issue of contraception.

Former Woman Astronaut Wins Competition for Interstellar Space Travel Plan

Ken O’Brien

In later December, 2011 a branch of the U.S. Government notified the winner of a competition to plan for the first interstellar travel by human beings.

According to the BBC, “The Pentagon's premiere research agency has chosen a former astronaut to lead a foundation that is designed to take humanity to the stars.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) and Nasa are sponsoring the project, known as the 100-Year Starship.
Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to go into space, was notified last week that she had won, according to a copy of a Darpa letter obtained by the BBC.”