Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Put A Sock In It!

In my earlier post “More Southbridge Town Council Sleight Of Hand” I remarked “Don’t snow us with the typical excuse that ‘this was discussed in subcommittee’”.

Well, sure enough, that’s exactly what we heard at last night’s town council meeting when the issue of a transfer from the Cable Committee budget to the school department came up.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Call for Entries: PHOTOFEST at QVCAH

Submitted by Monika Agnello

The Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities (QVCAH) will be hosting PHOTOFEST, an annual open theme photography exhibition in September, 2012. QVCAH is currently seeking photographers to submit their original (digital and traditional) photos for this juried group exhibition. Prizes will be awarded and presented at the opening reception to be held on Friday, September 7th 2012 from 6-9 pm. QVCAH welcomes and encourages proposals for site specific installations by individuals and groups. 

More Southbridge Town Council Sleight Of Hand?

The O’Zone recently pointed out the extreme contrast between the conduct of oversight between the town council and the prior school committee. While the former has been dominated by laissez faire obsequiousness to town managers, the latter was dominated by a stifling micro-management of day to day operational and personnel matters.

While it failed to gain popular electoral endorsement, the campaign slogan of Dennis Martinek in his bids for town council has nevertheless seemed to have gained currency. People are beginning to realize that there is a need to “Restore Balance”.

The pendulum has clearly begun to swing toward restoring a balance of appropriate roles in the school department. It remains to be seen whether they will exercise appropriate oversight regarding the latitude they are now allowing management. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Photo-‘Toons 1.15

Well it’s been another interesting week in Southbridge.

It began with some fractures showing up in the not-so-thin blue line of the Southbridge Police Department.

That was quickly followed up by a post Fourth of July round of fireworks from the Southbridge school system. First there was the M-80 set off that heralded the announcement that current Southbridge High Principal William Bishop would not be appointed principal of the new Middle/High School. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Creationism? Really? What About Geometry Or Medicine?

The U.S. ranks 25th internationally in terms of educational scores in mathematics and 17th in science.

Is it really any wonder?

We have been witness to a growing hostility to science and an indifferentism to the absolutes of scientific truths from religious fundamentalists for several decades. I’ve elaborated on the dangers of this trend in a past article.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Southbridge Town Council Agenda July 30, 2012

July 30, 2012 – 7:00 PM


The Mitt Hits The Fan

Mr. Romney’s first overseas stop as the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee did not get off to a fortuitous start as viewed by his traditionally reserved and friendly British hosts. This despite what would normally be expected from a government in the hands of Britain's Conservative Party.

From the conservative London Daily Mail, “Speaking anonymously behind the scenes, officials were … scathing in their verdicts, describing Mr Romney's second day in London as a 'total car crash' and saying he was 'worse than Sarah Palin'.” 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Obamacare Has Already Saved Seniors $4 Billion

The Centers for Medicare And Medicaid Services (CMS) released data showing that over 5.2 million seniors and people with disabilities have already saved nearly $4 billion on prescription drugs as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act.

The CMS data also showed that over 1 million people with Medicare saved an average of $629 on prescriptions in the “donut hole” coverage gap since the beginning of the year. 

Lewis Black Skewers Dishonest Political Ads

The Romney campaign just can’t let go of its distortion of the President’s remarks that small businesses rely upon public investments in infrastructure, education, science and technology in order to succeed. Even when confronted with virtually identical statements made by Romney in the past, they carry on without missing a beat. Now our own local experts on all things good and wholesome are joining in the Greek chorus.

If these people can’t be dissuaded by simple viewing of the facts and demonstrations of the meaning of “out of context”, the only option left is the frustrated rant. And nobody does that better than Lewis Black on the Daily Show.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meet Viviette Applewhite

Viviette Applewhite
Say hello to Viviette Applewhite. Viviette is 93 years young. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In the sixties Viviette marched alongside Martin Luther King in Georgia. The first time she ever voted in a Presidential election it was for John F. Kennedy.

Viviette is upset with her government. She is mad as hell and she’s not going to take it.

No, it’s not Washington and the Feds that has raised Viviette’s dander. It’s the Pennsylvania state government in Harrisburg. 

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Southbridge politics have forever been defined by coalitions sharing grudges and vendettas.

Last night’s meeting of the Southbridge school committee cemented in place a new brick in that relentlessly growing wall of infamy. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Principal At Southbridge Middle/High? The Span of Control Issue

Tonight’s meeting of the Southbridge School Committee will address an issue that has drawn a lot of attention in recent days for a variety of reasons. The agenda item reads:

“Vote to reorganize the Middle and High School Administration to create a new position of Principal of Southbridge Middle/High School (job description attached), and three (3) Assistant Principals for Southbridge Middle/High School, thereby abolishing the current positions titled, Southbridge High School Principal, Southbridge Middle (Mary E. Wells) School Principal, High School Assistant Principal, and Middle (Mary E. Wells) School Assistant Principal/Dean of Students.”

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oversight: A Contrast Of Imbalances in Southbridge

Two issues have come to a head in Southbridge and will result in either decisions or ongoing indecision in the near future.

The issues are the question of whether there will be one or two Principals at the new Southbridge Middle/High School and the growing disaffection between the Chief and the rank and file in the Southbridge Police Department. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Police Union - Chief Not Concerned With Issues In Department

As The O’Zone has reported for over a month, the vast majority of officers in the Southbridge Police Department are seriously dissatisfied with the leadership of Chief Daniel Charrette.

Of the 29 members of the Southbridge Police Association, 24 voted in favor, 4 opposed and one abstained on a motion that stated, among numerous concerns, that “The level of morale within the department is very low and it is our opinion that Chief Charette is not concerned with the issues within the Police Department.”

As reported earlier, a letter expanding upon these issues has been sent to all town councilors and the town manager.

The text of the letter follows:

From Logan Airport - Courtesy of Dennis Martinek

Sunday Photo-‘Toons 1.14

Insofar as it’s the dog days of summer and everyone is entitled to a vacation, The O’Zone decided to take a vacation from Photo-‘Toons last week.

Further, since it immediately followed Friday the 13th and would have been the thirteenth installment, I decided to follow the example of all the best hotels in numbering their floors and just eliminate it. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Whither Grover Norquist?

Lawrence O’Donnell likes to refer to him as the “most powerful man in America who holds no elective office.”

He is Grover Norquist, founder and President of Americans for Tax Reform. He is most notable for the pledge his organization requires to support candidates for U.S. Congressional office. The pledge requires that the signatories promise to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates." 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Martinek On Marketti And Friendship

Dennis Martinek

For a long time, I considered Mike Marketti, who used to draw cartoons for The Southbridge Evening News, a good person and a friend.

Then something happened, going back to February, which lasted three weeks in a row:

He hounded me to sign a petition to change the form of government to a Town Meeting form of government. He got incessantly more aggressive and annoying in bugging me to sign it, even showing up at my house unannounced when I wasn't home. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Distorting Again – Romney Returns To His Roots: A Video Profile

Allow me to set the stage. Let’s return to the halcyon days of yesteryear when Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans were bashing each other over the head in the Republican primaries.

In order to distinguish himself from his opponents in a state he was expected to win handily, Romney launched his first anti-Obama ad.

In case you’ve forgotten, Eric Fehrnstrom is better remembered for his “etch-a-sketch” and the “mandate is a tax, just like it was in Massachusetts” comments.

The latest firestorm on the right is fueled by the following quote:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Single Principal Planned At Middle/High School

Correction: 7/20/12 – It has been announced by Brent Abrahamson on The Massachusetts Observer that Amy Allen will become District's new Director of Instruction and Assessment. Obviously she would not be a candidate for the position of principal as a result. I apologize for the error.

The agenda for the next Southbridge School Committee meeting will contain a new business item calling for a single principal for the new Southbridge Middle/High School. Indications are that the current majority on the School Committee favor the proposal. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

An Inconvenient Election

Recent developments in the Republican Party in Massachusetts demonstrate an underlying philosophy that is fundamentally anti-democratic.

At the Republican State Convention held in April, delegates were elected to the Republican National Convention in August.

Much to the dismay of party leaders, 17 of the 27 delegates elected were not among the favored elite of the party. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Southbridge Police Set To Issue “Letter Of Concern” Regarding Chief

At the end of May The O’Zone reported that the Southbridge Police union had taken what was initially termed a vote of “no confidence” in Police Chief Daniel Charette.

After a  month and a half of back and forth with their attorneys, the union is about to release what is being termed a “letter of concern”.

The letter is set to be issued to the town manager, the town council and local press outlets. 

US Olympic Team’s Official Uniforms: Made In China

When the United States Olympic Team enters the Games’ opening ceremony at Olympic Stadium in London, it will be outfitted in official uniforms designed by Ralph Lauren. And though the 530 men and women who make up the team are the best athletes the country has to offer, the same cannot be said for the uniforms they’ll be wearing.

That’s because Ralph Lauren manufactured each piece of the uniform, from the unique hat to the designer jacket to the shoes, in China. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

MSNBC’s “The Cycle” Weighs In On Voter ID Laws

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
See The O’Zone’s detailed discussion of this matter HERE.
Repetition of prior material will not be posted.
Those who disagree can file their complaints with the Department of Redundancy Department.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Republican Disinformation On Obamacare?

The latest Republican talking point on Obamacare since the Supreme Court decision upholding the individual mandate has begun to emerge.

The latest use of it to come to my attention was this morning on the MSNBC program The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd. On the program Senator John Cornyn (R – Texas) spoke of the 22 other taxes in Obamacare in addition to the individual mandate.

Now, frankly, I didn’t know of these 22 other taxes. I knew there were a couple, very few that affected any significant number of people. The experience here in Massachusetts has already shown that the tax penalty for lack of insurance will affect only one percent of the population.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Study: Kids Say School Is Too Easy

According to a new study out today from the Center for American Progress, which picked over three years of data collected by the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, 37 percent of fourth-graders say their math work is “often” or “always” too easy, 57 percent of eighth-graders says the same about their history work, and 39 percent of seniors say they rarely have to write papers on what they read about in class.

Almost a third of eight-graders say they read less than five pages a day, and are only required to write long answers on reading tests twice a year or less. 

Listen To Your Momma!!! (Video)

Robber busted by his own mother

Published : Friday, 06 Jul 2012, 7:25 AM EDT

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — Police in Brandon say a convenience store robbery was stopped when the suspect's mother intervened.

The Tuesday morning robbery attempt was reported at a store on Highway 80.

Republicans: Size Doesn’t Matter

Way back in my high school days I participated actively in debating.

One of the fundamental components at the start of a debate was for the first speaker to define the key terms of the debate. Unless challenged, this guaranteed that all participants were talking about the same thing.

Unfortunately that practice doesn’t apply to political campaigning. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Photo-‘Toons 1.12

Well, the local elections are over and we are settling into the dog days of summer.

While the new school committee has shown it has a bite, it’s beginning to look like the town council will be just more barking.

While temperatures are tending to moderate after yesterday’s swelter, we may have to crank up the A/C Monday night around 7 pm to stay cool.

But right now it’s Sunday morning. So sit back, relax and unwind. Enjoy those eggs Florentine along with that mimosa or bloody mary. Then you can get to work making enough of those refreshing jello-shots to get you through Monday night’s council meeting.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Breaking News: Oil Spill at West Street School

UPDATE: Worcester Telegram July 10, 2012 - Spilled heating oil quickly cleaned up

Early indications are that there has been a spill of approximately 500 gallons of heating oil in the basement of West Street School.

Local officials as well as officials from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Affairs are on site overseeing the cleanup.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Analysis of Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Shows Scope of Voter Suppression

Ten days ago The O’Zone pointed out that the true goal of nationwide Republican efforts to enact voter ID laws were not what was claimed.

In that article we ran a video of the Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) proudly proclaiming that the state’s new voter ID law would ensure a victory for Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania.

We immediately received pushback that these were “common sense” laws designed to prevent voter fraud. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Southbridge Town Council Meeting July 9, 2012

The Southbridge Town Council Meeting of July 9th, just as its School Committee counterpart, will consist of two components.

First, there will be the reorganizational meeting.

That will be followed by a regular Council meeting.

These are the posted agendas for both.

A shameless plug

Ken O'Brien

I’m not going into business creating my own list like Angie or Craig.

But, when you find a local tradesman you’re happy with, then I think they deserve a plug.

For the first time since I moved back to town I found myself in need of a plumber.

I called a couple of friends and got a referral to a gentleman by the name of Shawn Sandgren.

He came over quickly, evaluated the situation and came back a day later and fixed the problem at a very reasonable price.

June Employment Situation Report

U.S. employers added only 80,000 jobs in June, a third straight month of weak hiring that shows the economy is struggling three years after the recession ended.
The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent.
The economy has added just 75,000 jobs a month in the April-June quarter. That's one-third of 226,000 a month created in the first quarter. Job creation is also trailing last year's pace through the first six months of 2012.

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- JUNE 2012 - U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Nonfarm payroll employment continued to edge up in June (+80,000), and the
unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics reported today. Professional and business services added jobs,
and employment in other major industries changed little over the month.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Anti - Americanism of the Right

“We the People of the United States…”

Those are the first seven words of the Constitution of the United States.

From its very birth the United States was a collective enterprise.

It was not an exercise that celebrated the individual. It was an affirmation that free people who shared ideals and dreams of a common future could work together for their realization. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Southbridge School Committee Reconstituted – Moves Aggressively for Change - Ely's Contract Extended

The Southbridge School Committee held its reorganizational meeting tonight following the June 26th town elections.

Committee member Scott Lazo was excused from the meeting.

Patricia Woodruff was elected as committee chairman and Mary Ellen Prencipe was elected as vice chairman.

The committee also eliminated the collective bargaining subcommittee. Preference regarding the latter seemed to lean toward a negotiating panel consisting of a member of the school committee, the school superintendent, the school business manager and, when appropriate, a legal advisor. It established a new subcommittee on Communication and Family Engagement to facilitate community wide communication and enhance citizen participation in school affairs.

Hey Southbridge - Wanna Blog? Classic Site Available

Banned, blamed and belittled by some Speak Out Southbridge was for years the dominant public forum in Southbridge.

Creator and author of Speak Out Southbridge, Dennis Martinek has decided that his tenure in that role has come to its end.

Despite having discontinued actively blogging several months ago, the site still receives numerous hits from internet search engines. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Chief Romney Spokesman: Obamacare Penalty Is Not A Tax

 Eric Fehrnstrom
MSNBC - Eric Fehrnstrom, the Romney spokesman made famous for his 'Etch-a-Sketch' comment, illuminated the struggle his candidate has had in explaining his evolving position on health care reform while appearing on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown Monday.

Republicans, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, have used the Supreme Court's ruling on  the Obama administration's health care law to criticize the president for a new tax on Americans. (The justices ruled the law was constitutional because the government is allowed to levy taxes; The law includes a fine for those who do not comply.) But this causes a problem for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, which is anti-tax, because Romney passed a very similar health care reform law that included a penalty fee when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Talking Trash

On Saturday the Worcester Telegram ran an article titled “Southbridge landfill foes say delay in environmental master plan is costly - Landfill seen as victim of delay” by Brian Lee.

The article focused primarily on dissatisfaction by local and state environmental activists with the state’s management of solid waste planning. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Photo-‘Toons 1.11

WOW! What a week!

We had Southbridge Smack Down 2012. We had a decision in Robamneycare. We even had a little local hissy fit.

As always, our crack team of photo elves have been busily crafting a bottoms-up compilation of the week in review.

We hope you can suspend judgment and find humor in our efforts.

So sit back, relax, and put a big dollop of Sambuca in your Sunday morning coffee.