Monday, April 30, 2012

Restoring Enthusiasm For America’s Space Program

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Whatever happened to “Yes, we can!”?

I’m not referring to a campaign slogan. I’m referring to the once indomitable spirit of Americans’ belief that they could triumph over adversity.

As I rapidly approach my dotage I retain the advantage of looking back to a time that was far more apocalyptic than today.

Elizabeth Warren Coming To Southbridge

The Democratic Town Committees of Charlton, Dudley, Southbridge, Spencer and Sturbridge will be hosting a meet-and-greet with U. S. Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.

Area residents are invited to join State Representative Anne Gobi, as well as retired Worcester County Sheriff Mike Flynn and former State Representative Geraldo Alicea in welcoming her to Central Massachusetts.

(UPDATE: State Senators Stephen Brewer and Richard T. Moore will be unable to attend as originally reported due to scheduling conflicts related to their official duties.)

The event will be held at the Fins and Tales Restaurant, 858 Main Street Southbridge and is free of charge.

For more information please email

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bishop Airport Caption Contest

Vote for your favorite caption
I have been truly impressed by, not merely the quantity but, the quality of entries received. Some of you should consider a career change and send resumes to Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert to become writers. 

More Sunday Photo-‘toons

Last week’s experiment in a virtual “Sunday funnies” was so well received (at least by some), that I decided to try it again.

As John Barrymore reportedly said to one of his grieving relatives on his deathbed, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Business Executives Don’t Make Good Presidents

Alex: Let’s play Jeopardy!

Willard: Presidents for $400 Alex.

Alex: He was the only President with an MBA.

Willard: Who was George W. Bush?

Alex; Correct!

Willard: Presidents for $500, Alex.

Alex: He was the President who campaigned on his business success with the slogan, “A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage”. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Southbridge Meeting Videos On YouTube

Amelia Peloquin has now begun making town council and school committee meetings available on YouTube.

Thanks to her for expanding her prior efforts and increasing the convenience of access to these public records.

The most recent additions can be accessed at:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let’s Have A Contest!

I want to thank Dennis Martinek for telling me something I didn’t know.

Apparently there’s an airport in Toronto with a very familiar name.

Given the photos he so kindly sent me I engaged in a little creative “re-imaging”.

Afterwards I tried a number of alternative captions, but I decided it would be fun to let you, The O’Zone readers, have a shot at it. 

If At First…; Ely Also Seeking Job in Montana

UPDATE: May 1 - Ely eliminated from finalists in Montana.

There can be little doubt that there is blood in the water in the administration of the Southbridge school system.

At the end of March The O’Zone reported that Southbridge School Superintendent Eric Ely had applied for a position as school system director in Roane County,Tennessee. 

The Facts Are In: Stimulus Worked - Republican Plan Fails

Following his string of primary victories on Tuesday, Mitt Romney took to the podium and rallied the Republican faithful. In a scathing criticism of President Obama’s economic policies, he said, “It’s still about the economy ... and we’re not stupid.”

I sincerely hope he’s right in saying that the American people are not stupid.

I also sincerely hope that people follow the advice he gave on February third, “If people think the economy is going in the right direction they should vote for President Obama.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

News Update: Ely Eliminated in Tennessee School Search

On March 31 The O’Zone reported that Southbridge School Superintendent Eric Ely had applied for the position of School Director in Roane County, Tennessee.

At the time Mr. Ely was named as one of ten semi-finalists for the position.

After a round of interviews, the search committee for the Roane County School District has released the names of three finalists.

That list of finalists did not include Mr. Ely, indicating that he had been removed from consideration.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Doggie Dialogue

Willard Romney: Seamus, I’m home.

Seamus: Woof, woof, woof.  (Close captioned to English): Yes master. More kibble, please?

Willard Romney: Later. First, we need to talk. We named you Seamus – that’s a cute Irish name. It’s a tradition that an Irish name indicates you do what you’re told and aspire to positions that are modest and realistic. It’s not a license to embarrass your betters or overreach. 

Turning Public Schools Into Christian Madrassas

Imagine that you live in the strongest military power in the world.

Your society leads in science, education and art.

A storm of religious fundamentalism begins to sweep through the region, undermining the “secular” elements of the community, imposing the primacy of scriptural tradition. Belief in science begins to be questioned, art becomes more focused on spiritual correctness and education emphasizes conformity with religious orthodoxy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Local Lamestream Media II

Back in February I illustrated how the local paper was relegating announcements by local candidates to second class status.

Well, today they managed to top themselves.

Several days ago The O’Zone carried the announcement of Amelia Peloquin’s candidacy for the Southbridge town council. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Photo-'toons: Southbridge's Next Election

Ken O'Brien

Readers of the papyrus Sunday newspapers are treated to a variety of editorial opinions expressed in imagery.

The tradition gained mass popularity in the days of the Condé-Nast publications, but it has a far longer and more colorful history. I encourage anyone who thinks our current political landscape is populated by commentators who lack restraint to examine the past record of visual depictions of partisan opinion.

Saturday, April 21, 2012



Editor's Note: Such a situation should be of particular concern in areas ravaged by last year's tornado and plagued by recent brush fires. The loss of ground cover could have serious consequences as a result of unrestrained runoff.

Webageddon In July?

Ken O’Brien

Four million internet users worldwide face a total internet blackout from July 9, thanks to a malicious piece of software that infected their computers without their knowledge

Hackers infected a network of computers worldwide. They took advantage of vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Windows operating system to install malicious software on the victim computers. This turned off antivirus updates and changed the way the computers reconcile website addresses behind the scenes on the Internet's domain name system. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Southbridge Town Council Agenda April 23, 2012

APRIL 23, 2012 – 7:00 PM
1. Pledge of Allegiance

2. Roll Call

3. Consider and accept the Council Minutes of Monday, April 9, 2012 Meeting

Where’s The Beef?

Ken O’Brien

We’re a little more than two months away from the annual Southbridge town election.

Thus far six people have taken out papers to run for town council; incumbents Denise Clemence, David Livengood and Lawrence Spinelli and newcomers Jean Heid, Shaun Moriarty and Amelia Peloquin.

While few people take an interest in elections until several weeks in advance, it is time to start to demand that candidates offer us more than the vague and pious platitudes that have dominated campaigns in the past. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Peloquin Announces Southbridge Town Council Bid

“Our local government needs fresh perspectives and new voices”

SOUTHBRIDGE – Southbridge resident Amelia Peloquin is pleased to announce her candidacy for Councilor-at-Large in the June 26 Southbridge municipal election.

"I’m running for Town Council because I am passionate about Southbridge and our town’s future. Together, we can find affordable and thoughtful solutions for the challenges facing our community. I believe our local government needs fresh perspectives and new voices in order to find those solutions. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fox News Picks Up ALEC’s Banner On Voter ID Laws

Ken O’Brien

Special Report with Bret Baier featured a report by Shannon Bream that advanced the misinformation effort supporting the campaign for these laws that seek to disenfranchise elderly, young and minority voters.

It was amusing that the report led off with a statement by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley citing such laws as “common sense”. Apparently she was unaware of the famous observation by Mark Twain as to how uncommon “common sense” actually is.

Never missing the opportunity to include one of their favorite right wing demons, the report included a comment by Van Jones who has been the subject of vilification by Fox News for years.

Here’s the report as it appeared tonight:

Auto Industry Faces New Problem

Ken O’Brien

An explosion at a German factory that makes resins used in automotive parts has threatened to slow down or halt new car production around the world

The March 31 blast at a plant of chemical maker Evonik Industries AG in the city of Marl in Germany’s Ruhr valley is leading to a shortage of a resin called PA-12. The explosion, which killed two, resulted in a complete loss of making Cyclododecatriene, also called CDT and a key element of PA-12. Global capacity of CDT is very limited. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Breaking News: House Adopts Durant Amendments to Southbridge Charter Amendments, Sends to Committee on Third Reading

SOUTHBRIDGE  TOWN CHARTER: The House accepted a report from the Committee on Bills in Third Reading on H 3900 relative to the town charter in Southbridge.

The House then adopted a Rep. Durant amendment, H 4039, exempting the town of Southbridge charter from attorney general approval of bylaws. The House then suspended rules, and ordered H 4039 to third reading, and engrossed it.

SOUTHBRIDGE TOWN COUNCIL: The House adopted a Rep. Durant amendment to H 4040 relative to the town council in Southbridge. The House then suspended rules to order the bill to third reading, and then engrossed the bill.

ALEC Ends Push for “Stand Your Ground” and Voter ID Laws

Ken O’Brien
ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), responding to its desertion by numerous high profile corporate sponsors, announced today that it was eliminating its arm that dealt with social policy issues. Without acknowledging the recent exodus of such high profile sponsors as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s and Kraft, ALEC said it was refocusing its efforts on economic policy.

The organization’s press release follows:

Contact: Kaitlyn Buss
Phone: 202-742-8526

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Watered Down Tea Party

Ken O’Brien

The Tea Party’s impact is becoming increasingly diluted.

The tea party movement finds itself losing popular support, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released yesterday. 

2012’s Trendiest Word (so far)

Ken O’Brien

Jaguar Artisan
UPDATE: Catch The Daily Show from May 1 starting at the 9 minute mark.

As long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by words. The right choice of phrase can captivate and inspire or, alternatively, engender fear and revulsion.

Any fan of the AMC series Mad Men can witness the role of phraseology in cultivating the impulse to purchase in a consumer society. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Poll Results on Southbridge High Principal: A Tossup

Ken O’Brien

After a week of input, 259 votes cast and more vituperative comments than a lifetime of Don Rickles’ and Joan Rivers’ performances combined, the results are in.

And the results are as definitive, and rewarding, as either the Soviet or American experiences in Afghanistan.

With a difference of only 13 votes out of the 259 cast, the opinion that the current SHS principal should stay came out on top by a statistically insignificant 5%.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Terra 25: Opening Reception and Presentation on Monarch Butterflies by Deb Malouin

Monika Agnello

The Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities (QVCAH) is sponsoring the opening reception of Terra 25, the 2nd Annual High School Student Recycled Art Exhibit. In addition to the exhibit opening and in celebration of Earth Day, there will be a presentation given at 1 pm by Deb Malouin on monarch butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators of our region. In recent years, environmental changes, pesticide use and technological developments have altered the sustainability of our ecosystems. Deb will discuss these effects and describe her passion for raising monarch butterflies, an art passed down from her mother that she now shares with her own children. 

Super Hero CineMania

Ken O’Brien

The advent of CGI animation and motion capture technology in cinema has been a boon to the comics industry.

Once regarded as the domain of adolescent fantasies, the universe of fictional super heroes has moved beyond its former pulp incarnation to a new stage. Once dismissed as “comic books” they have gained new status as “graphic novels”.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A New Broom Sweeps Half As Clean?

Ken O’Brien

In the last few weeks I’ve received a number of calls (obviously not as many as Councilor Regis got to
change her vote on the Board of Health Charter amendment on October 24, 2011).

As many will recall, there was a substantial controversy when the Southbridge Town Council voted to buy a new street sweeper.

As we are well aware it was a very mild winter.

As a consequence, the usual amount of sand put down during the season was drastically reduced.

As of now we have two street sweepers that are operational. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Let’s Kill The Messenger

Ken O’Brien

Doing this blog, believe it or not, is a very trying exercise.

It is inevitable that those who have an opinion will be excoriated by those with whom they disagree.

Current and former local bloggers have all attested to this fact.

Rarely is this tendency more pronounced than when a blogger ventures into the political realm – especially on a local level. 

Treating Some SouthbridgeTown Records As Trash

Ken O’Brien

Our municipal government overlords have no compunction about punishing the “pigs and barnyard animals” as our town council chair famously referred to some residents. You don’t use the right trash bags or the prescribed form of trash container? In a vampirical parody of Oprah, the message is “Here’s a $250 fine for you, and here’s a $250 fine for you, and for you and for you and….”

But they are apparently far more reticent about disciplining their own when it comes to fulfilling the basic requirements of government. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Southbridge Town Council Agenda - April 9, 2012

APRIL 9, 2012 – 7:00 PM
1. Pledge of Allegiance

2. Roll Call

3. Consider and accept the Council Minutes of Monday, March 26, 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 – 25 years of service to Corinne Tiberri
     b) Presentation – Update Centros Las Americas, Juan Gomez
     c) Presentation – Tasse’s / Alcoma Trust Realty, Jeff Tasse

8. Citizens Forum

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Conservative Myth About Americans Who Pay No Income Tax

Ken O’Brien

Talk to any dyed-in-the-wool conservative Republican or devout Tea Partier and one topic almost certain to come up is the observation that almost half of all American households pay no federal income tax.

Therefore, they argue, it is wrong to claim that the wealthiest Americans are bearing more than their fair share of the federal tax burden. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter

From Ken

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:36-39 New International Version (NIV)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Ken O’Brien

A week ago I quite innocently acted on a tip from a friend about the fact that Southbridge School Superintendent Eric Ely had applied for a position elsewhere.

To my absolute shock and surprise the resulting article has become, in one week, the second most read article in the history of the O’Zone.

There was a flood of comments, many of which revealed a deeply-seated antipathy toward elements of the current school administration, particularly at Southbridge High School. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Southbridge’s Rush Limbaugh Wannabe Revisited

Ken O’Brien

Once again the Southbridge Evening News’ editorial cartoonist has taken a potshot at someone whom, he feels, has not conformed to his narrow view of political correctness.

In today’s Evening News (page 4) he put forward a cartoon portraying Councilor Laurent McDonald (at least that's who people think it is) dancing with the town manager implying that the councilor had supported increases in taxes, water and sewer rates, etc.

The fact of the matter is that anyone who has given the least passing notice to Southbridge politics realizes that Councilor McDonald has been in the forefront of opposing the town manager and his supporters on the council in their efforts to create an imperial town managership.

Conservative “Freedom”: The Constitution Allows Execution of the Innocent

Ken O’Brien

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas
Conservative activists have struggled mightily to populate the Supreme Court with jurists who share their views. The judicial philosophies favored have been termed “strict constructionists” and “originalists”.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Breaking News: Grand Jury Indicts Cahill

Former State Treasurer Timothy Cahill has been indicted on public corruption and fraud charges. A grand jury indicted Cahill today after an investigation began involving taxpayer-funded Lottery adveritisements that his office produced while he was running for Governor.

For further details go to Go Local Worcester and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

The Upcoming By-law Fiasco In Southbridge

Ken O’Brien

At the Town Council meeting of December 19, 2011, Council Chair Nikolla announced the membership  of the town’s By-law Review Committee.

This Committee is appointed in accordance with Section 12-5-3 of the Town Home Rule Charter which reads as follows:

In every year following the issuance of a report by a charter review committee, the chairperson of the town council shall appoint a by-law review committee.  The committee shall consist of five members, and shall report its recommendations to the town council within one year from the date of its appointment. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

To Deny And Deflect

Dennis Martinek and Ken O’Brien

Updated 4/1/2012, 7:58 pm

Back in the beginning of August, Dennis Martinek sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Town Clerk which read in part:

“Pursuant to the Public Records Law, M.G.L. c. 66, as amended, and the Public Records Access Regulations, 950 CMR 32.00 et seq., I am requesting the following public records in the possesion, custody or control of the Town of Southbridge, and its agencies, divisions, or offices:…