Saturday, June 30, 2012

Obamacare: Not A Job-Killer

Opponents to the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, argue that it will kill jobs. They reason that forcing employers to provide insurance for their employees will raise their costs, and that they’ll cover those costs by cutting wages and other compensation, and ultimately by shedding jobs. But is that true?

The nonpartisan Urban Institute decided to find out. It did so by looking at what has happened in Massachusetts, whose health reform law, passed in 2006, is broadly similar to the Affordable Care Act. It found no evidence whatever that health care reform, and mandated coverage, killed jobs: 

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Truth About Fast and Furious

Dave Voth
Katherine Eban, writing for that “left wing rag” Fortune Magazine, has conducted an extensive investigation into the “Fast and Furious Scandal”. This is the very basis upon which The U.S.  House of Representatives voted yesterday to indict Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress.

For those who even care to consider something other than partisan talking points, here is her article from Fortune as republished by the Huffington Post.

(For those who don’t want to take the time to read the whole article, a summary is available from Mother Jones)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Southbridge School Committee Agenda - July 3, 2012


LOCATION: Robert G. MacKinnon Council Chambers

DATE: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

TIME: 7:00 PM

Reorganization meeting followed by regular meeting.

Breaking News: Obamacare upheld by court.

In a dramatic victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health care law today, preserving Obama’s landmark legislative achievement.

The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who held that the law was a valid exercise of Congress’s power to tax.

The decision came as a sharp rebuff and disappointment to congressional Republicans, many of whom had expected the court to strike down at least some parts of the law.

Passage of the law in 2010 had come at a high political cost, with 14 House Democrats in competitive districts losing their seats in the 2010 elections in part due to their votes for the bill and six Democratic Senate candidates who’d voted for the bill also lost their elections in 2010.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Republican Brags About Voter ID Law Winning the State of PA for Romney

Despite several years of Republicans promoting voter fraud as the basis for new voter ID Laws around the country, the truth has leaked out. Numerous non-partisan groups including the League of Women Voters and The Brennan Center for Law and Justice have repeatedly shown that the incidences of actual voter fraud are insignificant.

Rather than being a response to voter fraud it is widely recognized by many that such laws are an effort at voter suppression designed to disenfranchise traditionally Democratic voter groups such as the elderly, students and minorities.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Southbridge 2012 Town Election Results

For Council it’s Moriarty, Peloquin and Clemence.

For School Committee it’s Donovan and McLoughlin.

Vote Totals

2012 Members Exhibition and Annual Meeting at QVCAH

Monika Agnello

The Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities (QVCAH) will be hosting its Member's Exhibition and Annual Meeting on June 29th, 2012.

Please join us starting at 6 pm for the opening of the 2012 Member’s Exhibition. The Member's Exhibition promises to include a diverse selection of work from supporting members of the organization ranging from painting and sculpture, to photography, pottery and crafts. The QVCAH Annual Meeting will begin at 7 pm with committee presentations, meeting and elections as the evening is filled with spirited discussion about the past, present and future direction of the organization. This is an excellent opportunity for the growing QVCAH membership and the public to engage the QVCAH Board of Directors in both an informal and formal setting. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Southbridge Councilor McDonald Speaks Out

As regular readers of The O’Zone know, we have frequently featured remarks by Southbridge town councilor Laurent “Butch” McDonald.

Last night he posted a comment on his Facebook page speaking out about an affliction that he feels is suffered by many people we all know.

Sympathetic as we have always been to the councilor’s views and requests we are complying with his stated wish to give wide circulation to his opinions.

His statement as it appears on his Facebook page follows:

Go Local Worcester - Southbridge #69: Central MA’s Best Communities

Monday, June 25, 2012
GoLocalWorcester Best Communities Team


A culturally diverse town, Southbridge has seen a variety of different ethnic groups move to town, including Laos, Vietnam and Puerto Rico.  The town has newly renovated schools, including a brand new high school that will open in the fall. It is also home to hiking trails, an art center and four parks.  The town also has its own airport, which is privately managed.

Southbridge’s rankings were split, placing in the top 20 in three categories (affordability, arts and culture, and restaurants), but near the bottom in three others (economic condition, safety and education). In education, Southbridge scored lowest of all Central Mass.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Breaking News: Southbridge Summer Jobs Go To Favored Few

Earlier today The O’Zone received the following comment from a reader who identified themselves as “Job Opportunity Lost”:

“A notice for Ozone readers: The school department is hiring people to move teacher classrooms to prepare for the 2012 - 2013 school year. Rate is $16 per hour. Must be able to lift boxes. Possible job for many in our community who are currently unemployed. Interested? Too bad. Jobs were given to school committee members' children. Same school committtee members who voted the positions and the rate.”

Sunday Photo-'Toons 1.10

UPDATE: June 25, 10:30 am - A late addition by contributor I.M.Townie.

Well, for the residents of Southbridge, it’s all over except for the yawning and recriminations.

On balance the campaign for the key elective offices has been not inspirational, but rather (if I might coin a word) dispirational.

There are enough candidates about who I am enthusiastic enough to have recommended to the voters.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vecchia Interprets History

Former councilor Albert D. Vecchia, Jr. and "his" road
Former town councilor Albert D. Vecchia, Jr. had an interesting letter in June 22nd’s Southbridge Evening News. Titled “Vecchia: Clemence ‘best councilor I ever served with’” it read as follows:

Operation “Fast and Furious” Started Under Bush as Operation “Wide Receiver”

Congressman Darrel Issa
Almost two years into his relentless effort to uncover dirt on the Obama Administration, Congressman Darrel Issa, the richest member of Congress, and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has apparently struck pay dirt on the issue of the “Fast and Furious” program executed by the Department of Justice. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Moriarty Responds to Southbridge News Article

Shaun Moriarty

I am featured in a candidate profile in today's Southbridge Evening News; there are a couple of things worth clarifying or correcting.

The biggest one, in my eyes, has to do with spending money. I have often stated that I don't mind paying taxes so long as I feel that money is being spent appropriately and justly, and the article says as much. However, the article states that I feel "the town needs extra spending in some areas," and cites the DPW as a chief benefactor and that I feel a need for "specifically, a new firehouse." 

The O’Zone Recommends

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Southbridge Pre-Election Recap: Through the Eyes of Photo-‘Toons

Ken O’Brien

Just as The O’Zone is committed to attempting to provide you with news that you may not get elsewhere, so are we resolved to provide you a perspective on the past that has brought us to where we are now.

With the Southbridge town elections now less than a week away, it is only appropriate to recount recent perspectives on what is shaping that apocalyptic event.

It is felt that there is no better vehicle to do this in a totally biased and irreverent way than to regurgitate the history of our Sunday segment Sunday Photo-‘Toons from the beginning.

So, hopefully to spur your interest, outrage, recollection and amusement in our annual exercise in democratic self-flagellation, here is a series of links to all the previous ‘Toons in reverse chronological order. 

Don't Be Fooled Again

Dennis Martinek

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Southbridge Town Election Campaign Alert

Ken O’Brien

Catch Dennis Martinek’s campaign videos which are being broadcast on Southbridge Cable TV channel 13 starting tonight at 7 pm and they will be rebroadcast on SCTV channel 13 at 7 am and 7 pm until the June 26th town election.

Southbridge Town Council Pre-Election Charade

I will have a more extensive review of last night’s town council meeting after I’ve had a chance to watch it again.

In essence it was an encomium to how wonderful everything is under the current regime, with the chairman’s and town manager’s announcement amounting to a defense of all their shortcomings. Clearly rehearsed appearances during citizen’s forum reinforced the “don’t worry, be happy” theme with which the leadership sought to lead into the final week before the town election next Tuesday. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Worcester Telegram: Clark Criticized Over Access Road

Ken O’Brien

In a late-posted article in today’s Worcester Telegram, Brian Lee reported on criticisms leveled at Southbridge town manager Christopher Clark.

Specifically former town council chairman Steven Lazo and local resident Dennis Martinek criticized Clark’s recent admission (at just over the one hour point in the video) that the much touted access road does not really provide access to the bulk of the property that has been promoted as the site for an industrial park.

Both Mr. Lazo and Mr. Martinek are candidates for the Southbridge town council in the upcoming June 26th town election.

The Telegram article by Brian Lee follows.

Sunday Photo-‘Toons 1.9

Ken O’Brien

Well, town elections are only a little over a week away 
Just as spring is marked by the blooming of flowers, so this season sees campaign signs sprouting all over the local landscape.

In the spirit of environmental preservation, The O’Zone confines its campaigning to cyberspace.

With that proviso, let’s season your Sunday breakfast or brunch with our unique mixture of cynicism and sass.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Clark Won’t Reappoint Bernadone

Ken O’Brien

Several months ago town manager Christopher Clark informed Rinaldo Bernadone that he would not be reappointing him to either the Board of Health or the Liquor Licensing Board.

On Thursday, June 14, Clark went on record in the Worcester Telegram giving his reasons.

In an article titled “Southbridge town manager says he won’t reappoint health, liquor board member it is reported  “Mr. Clark said one of the basic standards for serving on a town board or committee is having an open mind and being fair.” 

Southbridge Town Council Agenda - June 18, 2012

June 18, 2012 – 7:00 PM
1. Pledge of Allegiance

Video - DPW Subcommittee June 12 - A Tale of Two Backhoes

Courtesy of Amelia Peloquin

A Paul Zotos Film

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Breaking News: EHS Subcommittee Votes In Favor of Reducing Trash Fines

Ken O’Brien

At it’s meeting of Wednesday, June 13, the Education and Human Services Subcommittee voted to request the town council to discuss at its next meeting a reduction of the current trash fines to $25, $50 and $100 for the first, second, third and subsequent offenses. This would be a dramatic reduction from the current level of $250 for a first ticketed offense.

The vote was three to one with the only dissenting vote coming from citizen subcommittee member Holly Christo.

However, there is no guarantee that the item will appear on the Monday agenda. The town charter provides that the agenda is made up by the council chair. 

Martinek Releases New Campaign Web Video

Ken O’Brien

Southbridge SEA President Williams Speaks Out

Ken O’Brien

David Williams, President of the Southbridge Education Association, spoke out in a Letter to the Editor in Today’s Southbridge Evening News.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Open Thread: "Dallas" (The Next Generation)

Did you watch the premiere of the revival of Dallas tonight on TNT?

My ex-wife and I were addicted to the original.

What did you think of the new Dallas?

Breaking News: Ely Eliminated In Dracut Superintendent Search

Ken O’Brien

According to a twitter feed from John Collins, a reporter for the Lowell Sun:

7:12 pm [Former Dracut Special Education Director Steve] STONE HAS THREE VOTES and counting. HE WILL BE Dracut's new superintendent of Schools. Vote to follow.

7:23 pm Unanimous 5-0, Dracut SC votes to make Steven Stone next superintendent. Board now enters neg's w/'Supt-elect Stone.

Full twitter record of candidate interviews is available at @johncolowellsun.

Clemence Redux

A Film by James Sottile

Walker Invites You To Kickoff for State Rep. Campaign

Ken O’Brien

Kathleen Walker
Kathleen Walker is holding an event to mark the launch of her campaign for State Representative for the 6th Worcester District. Walker, a Democrat, has spent over ten years as a Charlton selectman as well as serving on numerous town committees.  

The event will be held tomorrow, June 14, at Fins and Tales Restaurant, 858 Main Street in Southbridge from 5 pm until 8 pm. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.

To confirm plans to attend contact Heather Clements at

Her campaign website is

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DiGregorio Announces Withdrawal From School Committee Race

Ken O’Brien

David DiGregorio announced his withdrawal from the race for Southbridge School Committee during tonight’s school committee meeting. Committee members John Jovan and Dr. Tanya Dominko were excused from the meeting. Their absence was unexplained.

DiGregorio filed his papers for the position just before the deadline and therefore his name will still appear on the June 26th ballot. He failed to appear at the recent debate among school committee candidates and offered no explanation for his absence.

During the new business portion of the meeting, Mr. DiGregorio referenced his father as telling him, “Try not to screw things up.”

He went on to say that, after nine years on the committee, new candidates for the council offered new ideas, and he urged voters to support them.

Breaking News: DPW Subcommittee Votes For Another Backhoe

Ken O’Brien

The DPW subcommittee voted tonight to recommend that the town purchase another backhoe, following the approval by the town council at its last meeting to approve purchase of one.

The subcommittee agenda item approved an expenditure of $121,000 for this purchase.

The opinion expressed by those close to the matter was that the sewer department felt that it did not have adequate access to the backhoe already approved and it needed one of its own.

Paul Zotos recorded the meeting and we hope to have a visual record in the near future.

Clark Considering Returning To Full-Time Cable Director

Ken O’Brien

In a little-noticed article in last Wednesday’s Worcester Telegram titled “Southbridge town manager considers full-time cable access chief” Brian Lee reports, “Town Manager Christopher Clark said recently he is considering reverting to a full-time department head for local cable access, which has had a revolving door of leadership in recent months.”

The article goes on to elaborate how, after Clark fired long-time Director Paul Zotos, the department was reorganized to consist of three part-timers earning a total of about $60,000. 

Southbridge School Committee Candidates' Debate

Courtesy of Amelia Peloquin

Southbridge Town Council Candidates' Debate

Courtesy of Amelia Peloquin

Monday, June 11, 2012

Breaking News: EHS Subcommittee To Consider Changing Trash Fine

Ken O’Brien

The Southbridge town council’s Subcommittee on Education and Human Services will meet Wednesday June 13 at 7 pm in the Rice Conference Room. On the agenda is consideration of a motion to amend the town’s fine for infraction of the trash bylaw.

The subcommittee is chaired by Councilor Denise Clemence who is running for reelection in the June 26 town election.

It is worth noting that any bylaw change requires approval at three successive town council meetings.

So Where’s the Debate Video?

Ken O’Brien

UPDATE: 5:40 pm. The town council debate is now on the cable schedule for tonight on channel 12 at 9 pm and again at 10:30 pm.
The school committee debate is scheduled for 9:30 pm on channel 11.

Schedules for tomorrow’s repeats of the debates can be found here for the school committee and here for the town council.
On the calendar, click on the date you want to see.

Okay. So the debates featuring candidates for town council and school committee (at least most of them excepting most incumbents) were Saturday afternoon.

It’s now after 4 pm on Monday, following the listed closing hours for the Southbridge Cable TV office. No replay of the debates is shown for anytime today or tomorrow on any of the public info cable TV channel schedules on the town’s website.

What’s the problem? In my opinion Zotos would have had it up by now.

Southbridge School Committee Agenda June 12, 2012

LOCATION: Robert G. MacKinnon Council Chambers
DATE: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
TIME: 7:00 PM
I. Pledge of Allegiance
II. Public Input
III. Meeting Called to Order
IV. Roll Call

Elizabeth Warren in Southbridge

Elizabeth Warren visited Southbridge on May 12. She met an assembly of local residents at Fins and Tales Restaurant.

This video was originally released yesterday on Steve’s Politics Blog.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Southbridge Democratic Town Committee Endorses Local Candidates for June 26, 2012 Town Election

Southbridge, MA – At their monthly meeting on Saturday, June 9, 2012, the Southbridge Democratic Town Committee voted unanimously to endorse the following candidates in the upcoming town election on Tuesday June 26, 2012: Eleven year incumbent and six-term Chairman John D. Jovan Jr. and newcomer Lauren McLoughlin for School Committee, Amelia Peloquin for Town Council.

Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. All five precincts in Southbridge will be voting at the Southbridge Community Center, 153 Chestnut Street. The Southbridge Democratic Town Committee meets on the second Saturday of every month at the Southbridge Community Center, 153 Chestnut Street, Southbridge, MA. For more information please email

Sunday Photo-‘Toons 1.8

Ken O’Brien

Frequent O’Zone contributor I.M.Townie was apparently on an inspired high recently. The result is a six frame series that takes on his/her favorite subjects.

As a result this week’s offering takes on a heavy school committee focus. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Romney’s Lies II

I was motivated to put this piece on The O’Zone by a recent exchange I had with a commenter on the article “What Happened To Republican Gas Attacks?

The exchange went as follows:

stop the spinJune 7, 2012 9:36 PM
IQ Sounds like your undies are in a knot because you know im right stop the spin. The country is tired of four years of spending, high gasoline, solyndra ,bailouts gm, chrysler and any other buddy this dope of a president has bailed out at our expense and where still with high unemployment. Just wait november is coming and i will buy you a new pair of underwear IQ!!

Reminder - Southbridge Candidates’ Debate Tomorrow

Candidates for Southbridge school committee and town council will square off tomorrow, Saturday June 9th for a televised debate in advance of the June 26th town election.

The debate is being sponsored jointly by the Southbridge Democratic and Republican town committees. Charlton town moderator Peter Cooper, Jr. will act as moderator for the occasion.

It will be broadcast on Southbridge Cable TV channel 12 starting at 1 pm. The first session, lasting 90 minutes will feature the candidates for Southbridge school committee. This will be followed by a ninety minute debate among candidates for Southbridge town council beginning at 3 pm. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jonathan Jacobson: In His Own Words

Jonathan Jacobson
Hello, my name is Jonathan Jacobson and I am a teacher. I would like the opportunity to tell you all a little bit about myself, how I became a teacher, and my experiences in Southbridge.

I have lived in Southbridge since 2000 and helped raise three wonderful boys from diapers to high school. In December 2005, I read a Reader's Digest article titled, “The Brain Drain”. The article spoke about how the United States was not preparing its children for a future in a global economy, how the educational system was not creating enough scientists and engineers, and the solution was to find highly qualified teachers in math and science. I worried about my own children's future and what I could do to help make a difference. Shortly after reading the article, the President of the United States, during his State of the Union address, asked for highly qualified people in math and science to step forward and become teachers to help pave the way for a brighter future for our children. It was as if the President was speaking directly to me and I answered the call. At first, I offered to substitute teach, but when I found that without a license I could not actually teach, I immediately registered to take the teacher test.  My license to teach high school mathematics arrived in August 2006 and several teacher friends recommended I apply to the Worcester Public Schools District because it was large and would more readily accept a first year teacher. They were right. No sooner had I dropped off my resume, than I received a call on the way home to come in for an interview and I was hired. On the first day, I was given a classroom list, attendance sheets and the teacher text book and told to go and teach the kids.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What Happened To Republican Gas Attacks?

Remember a couple of months ago when Republicans were blaming President Obama for high gas prices?

Remember when Newt Gingrich tried to revive his Presidential campaign with unfounded promises of $2.50 gasoline?

When was the last time gas prices were dropping before, during and after the Memorial Day weekend?

Ray Bradbury Dead at 91

Ray Bradbury, author of such classic works of fantasy and science fiction as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, died Tuesday night at the age of 91.

Slowed down in recent years by a stroke that meant he had to use a wheelchair, Bradbury remained active into his 90s, turning out new novels, plays, screenplays and a volume of poetry. He wrote every day in the basement office of his Cheviot Hills home.

Bradbury broke through in 1950 with The Martian Chronicles, a series of intertwined stories that satirized capitalism, racism and superpower tensions as it portrayed Earth colonizers destroying an idyllic Martian civilization. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ely Finalist in Dracut

Update - June 11: The Lowell Sun reports that interviews for the four candidates for School Superintendent will be conducted on Wednesday, June 13. Eric Ely is scheduled to be interviewed starting at 2 pm. The Committee could reach a decision as early as Wednesday evening.

Southbridge School Superintendent Eric Ely is one of four finalists for Dracut Superintendent of Schools according to an article in The Lowell Sun.

One of the four finalists had previously been chosen for the position. In March the Dracut school committee voted 3 to 2 to enter into negotiations with the individual, a special education director in Peabody. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Southbridge Town Budget Available On-Line Courtesy of Dennis Martinek

Southbridge town council candidate Dennis Martinek has made all 268 pages of the FY 2013 Southbridge town budget available on-line.

It can be downloaded in PDF format at this location: 2013 Southbridge Town Budget.

Why couldn’t’ the town do this before it was voted on?

UPDATE: Dennis’ latest campaign video, “The Access Road: The Khyber Pass” is also now available.


Southbridge Democratic Town Committee Chairman Laurent McDonald has announced that The Democratic Town Committee of Southbridge will have their monthly meeting this Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the Southbridge Community Center, 153 Center Street. Democratic candidates running for office who wish to seek the committee’s endorsement are invited to address the committee at this meeting. 

Editor’s Note: A Courtesy Request

As O’Zone readers are aware, several recent articles have generated a good number of comments.

Many, in fact most, of the comments are anonymous. I have no issue with this, provided commenters abide by the guidelines I have posted.

However, it would greatly facilitate conversation if anonymous posters would adopt a screen name. This would make it easier for others to reference your comments.

Doing this is quite simple. Under the “comment” form you will see a drop down menu. When you click on this it will ask you to “select profile”. Select “Name/URL”. When the responses box comes up insert your chosen screen name in the name field and leave the URL field blank and press “Continue”. You can then post and that screen name will appear ahead of your comment.

Your cooperation will certainly be appreciated by all.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Photo –‘Toons 1.7

This week’s edition takes on a musical and movie theme. It wasn’t intentional. It just worked out that way.

We manage to blaze a path from Gone with the Wind to Star Wars with Singin’ in the Rain and a hint of Twister thrown in.

So sit back, ready your morning popcorn and Big Gulp, and enjoy this week’s version of cinema sort of verité.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Breaking News: Southbridge Charter Amendment Struck Down As Unconstitutional

According to highly reliable sources the Massachusetts House of Representatives Committee on Bills in Third Reading has eliminated the following proposed amendment to the Southbridge Home Rule Charter as being unconstitutional.

Section 2-2-2 No qualified voter of the town shall be eligible to run for the office of councilor if he or she is not in good financial standing with the town by being current in all bills from the town.

Background For Monday's Southbridge Town Council Meeting - Wednesday's General Government Subcommittee Meeting

A Film by Paul Zotos

Friday, June 1, 2012

Romney's Lies

Rachel Maddow 
Rarely do journalists have the courage to use the term liar when referring to a candidate for public office.

It is even more unusual for a journalist with a national forum to use the term in reference to a candidate for President of the United States.

On Thursday, May 31, Massachusetts' own Rachel Maddow did this on her nightly program.

Regardless of whether you agree with her political leanings or not, one aspect of Ms. Maddow's reporting is her devotion to verifiable facts. She has assembled one of the best research staffs in the cable news business.