Friday, November 30, 2012

A Winter Celebration at QVCAH

Submitted by:

The Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities (QVCAH) is proud to present A Winter Celebration which will be held next weekend, December 7th, 2012 at 111 Main Street in Southbridge, MA.

Come celebrate the Winter Season at the Arts Center on Friday, December 7th from 5- 9 PM! A free family event for all ages with live seasonal violin music by Samantha Gillogly, ice sculpture demonstration by Don Chapelle and Brilliant Ice Sculpture, glassblowing demonstration by Gale Scott and Shaun Conroy courtesy of Worcester Center for Crafts.

The Massachusetts State Budget: Non-Education Local Aid

Southbridge’s FY 2013 non-education budget totals $21,641,836. Of that total, $2,760,518 or 12.8% is projected to come from unrestricted general government local aid from the state. In FY 2012 state aid constituted the same dollar amount, but represented only 12.4% of the town’s non-education budget.

Clearly any funding source that comprises 12% to 13% of the town budget is a matter of serious concern. While it does not rise to anywhere near the $17,650,872 in Chapter 70 funds that underwrite the town’s education budget, 71% of the total, any threat to local aid funding could have dire effects on the town. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Southbridge Town Council Agenda - December 3, 2012




December 3, 2012 – immediately following Public Hearing On FY 2013 Tax Classification and Tax Rate


1. Pledge of Allegiance

2. Roll Call

An Overview Of The FY 2013 Massachusetts Budget

The FY 2013 Massachusetts state budget has been enacted and the spending blueprint for the year is now in place.

There is no revenue from new taxes in the FY 2013 budget. Of all the proposals in this budget process, only the Governor included new taxes—among them an increase in the cigarette tax and an end to the sales tax exemption for candy and soda. None of these taxes was included in the final budget. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Art & Craft Sale: locally made gifts by artisans & crafters

Open 11 am to 7 pm Every Day

Submitted by:
Monika Agnello

The Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities (QVCAH) is proud to present its annual Holiday Art & Craft Sale which will be held next weekend, December 7- 9th, 2012 at 111 Main Street in Southbridge, MA.

Please join us from Noon to 9pm on Friday and 10am to 6pm on Saturday & Sunday when you'll find a huge selection of locally made gifts at the Art Center. 

Stop Susan Rice For Secretary Of State To Re-Elect Scott Brown

A week and a half ago I posted the image on the right as one of The O’Zone’s Sunday Photo-‘Toons.

The obvious implication was that it would be of potentially great benefit to soon-to-be former Senator Scott Brown to have John Kerry appointed Secretary of State because it would allow Brown to run in a special election for that then vacant Senate seat.

Indeed, Kerry was among two names prominently mentioned to succeed Hillary Clinton who has announced her intention to step down. The other name floated was that of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Southbridge School Committee: Wiggin Stipend, Search Plan For Acting Superintendent

Terry Wiggin
Tuesday night, at a special meeting of the Southbridge school committee, plans were outlined for its search for an acting superintendent to replace current acting superintendent Terry Wiggin. Mr Wiggin is currently serving double duty, also being the school district's business manager. 

The acting superintendent would serve until there is a resolution of the investigation of Superintendent Eric Ely, who is currently on paid administrative leave. At that point his services would end if Mr. Ely returns to active service or continue until a new superintendent is hired following Mr. Ely’s departure. 

Does Anybody Take This Guy Seriously?

At the end of last month The O’Zone published a copy of a letter from a former assistant principal severely criticizing her former superior.

Shortly thereafter I published an article pointing out that, despite his shortcomings, Scott Lazo had been overly-vilified in some quarters, overlooking the many contributions he has made to the community. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Taxpayers Aren’t Santa

Note: At last week’s town council meeting the town manager noted that December 3rd’s meeting would address the annual setting of the tax rate. He reminded us that the rate was determined by the town budget which had already been settled upon last spring. In light of this I thought it appropriate to reprint a post that The O’Zone first published on December 6th of last year. If so inclined, you may wish to examine the comments that were made by certain readers at the time.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Larry Hagman Dead AT 81

(Reuters) - Larry Hagman, who created one of American television's most supreme villains in the conniving, amoral oilman J.R. Ewing of "Dallas," died on Friday, according to a co-star. He was 81.

Hagman died at a Dallas hospital of complications from his battle with throat cancer, the Dallas Morning News reported, quoting a statement from his family. He had suffered from liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver in the 1990s after decades of drinking.

Linda Gray, who played J.R.'s long-suffering wife, Sue Ellen, was with Hagman in Dallas when he died, the actress' spokesman, Jeffrey Lane, said in an email. 

The Seasonal Joy Of Shopping

The insanity that has become “Black Friday” (and now thanks to unbridled greed and complete disdain for thoughts of family “GrayThursday”) raged to even greater heights over the last two days.

A Massachusetts man allegedly left his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son in the car while he shopped at a Kmart in Springfield, Mass., and then went home with a new 51-inch television — but no child, 22 News WWLP reports. Police found the child sleeping in the car in the Kmart parking lot around 1:30 a.m. Friday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Charter Change Chicanery

Want to be taken for a ride?
Back in October, you may recall, I submitted an open meeting law complaint that resulted in the town council being required to take a formal vote on proposed amendments to the special legislation to amend the Southbridge Home Rule Charter.

At the time I expressed the view that the agenda item proposed on the October 15 town council meeting agenda was not properly formulated.

Yesterday I decided to follow up on this matter. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Boiling Down Rumors

Speculation is palpable regarding the executive session meeting being held tonight by the Southbridge school committee regarding the future of Superintendent Eric Ely who has been put on administrative leave regarding a charge of misconduct.

Reporting on rumors is a very tricky business as one of my blogger colleagues noted in August.

Nevertheless there are competing strains which boil down to two recurring themes. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Outsider's View And Why Southbridge Is Not My Home

Javier Melendez

Javier Melendez
I do not usually voice my frustrations. However I feel it is important to inform Southbridge of why I chose not to make it my home. There are many things I love about Southbridge and it makes me sad to see where Southbridge is now. From the fights to the finger pointing and the adult babies. Southbridge way back when was a great community where people took pride and were proud to say that they came from Southbridge. Now many people my age can’t wait to get out of Southbridge. Being almost 21, I have worked 5 jobs, 2 of which were in Southbridge. When I was 17 I worked during the summer alongside the DPW under the stimulus package which provided a summer job for younger people  and we helped beautify Southbridge, and it was a job which you could take pride in at the end of the day.

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Details Emerge About Meeting That Put Ely On Leave

Sources close to the decision to place Southbridge School Superintendent Eric Ely on paid administrative leave have provided new details regarding the matter to The O’Zone.

Initially the Worcester Telegram and Gazette reported on November 14th, in an article titled “Southbridge school committee votes to put superintendent on leave”, that, “The decision was made during an emergency meeting held in executive session at the district's administrative building on Cole Avenue, the former high school.” 

A State Takeover Of Southbridge Schools?

In light of recent developments a number of people have suggested that it is time for the Southbridge School District to go into state receivership.

I am not convinced that this is a good idea.

I fear that it may be a hasty, knee-jerk overreaction to unfortunate but correctable personnel decisions as well as the concurrence of those issues with a period of transition and realignment. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Breaking News: Ely Placed On Leave

The Worcester Telegram is reporting that an emergency meeting of the Southbridge School Committee has voted to place Southbridge School Superintendent Eric Ely on administrative leave. The action results from an undivulged complaint received by the committee.

School Business Manager Terry Wiggin will assume the duties of temporary acting Superintendent.

The story is available HERE.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bob Cirba Bids Blogging A Farewell

Bob Cirba
This political season has been an interesting one to say the least.

 Full of suspense, and more than a little intrigue, it has been one for the ages.  To say the least, I am more than a little burned out by all the hoopla, and running a blog for five years.   To keep up any level of journalistic integrity, occasionally you have to throw in the towel and call it a day.

Part of it is the incredible apathy bloggers run up against, and more often than not, it’s the apathy of the politicos we write about.  This election is not any different than any other in the grand scheme of things, just disturbing in the depth of the misinformation put out by both sides.  In the time I have been a blogger, I have come to appreciate what we do as a society and more importantly as a country.  They say that water finds its own level, and the same can be said of politics.  In that vein I want to go out as I came in, shooting at anything that moved.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Goin' Fishin'

The O'Zone is going to be taking a brief respite to recharge and refresh.

To the chagrin of many, I'm sure, we do plan to return before too long.

In the meantime, enjoy yourselves. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

(P. S. During this time we will still publish public service announcements from local organizations.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Earlier today The O’Zone ran an article titled “RANDOM WINGNUT POST-ELECTION WHINING”.

The article was derived from another site. It addressed itself to a variety of national forums. But the idiocy espoused by them is nonetheless present locally.

As an addendum, The O’Zone posted a video from the “Morning Joe” program featuring David Frum.

Frum, an avowed conservative, with a long and illustrious record as such, made a point that The O’Zone has advocated for almost as long as this blog has existed.

Honoring All Who Served


From Wonkette

Do you people have any idea how hard it is to sift through all the insane rightwing mutterings about the reelection of Barack Obama so that we can bring you the very best? Neither do we! It all starts looking the same after about five minutes! And so, this collection of freakouts will, of necessity, be something of a sampler plate from the great smorgasbord that is the Great 2012 Wingnut Butthurtosphere.

Sunday Photo-'Toons 1.30

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why Conservative Economic Theories Are Destroying America

At the outset I want to apologize to those readers of The O’Zone who feel I am talking down to them.

However, the reality is that there is a mountain of misinformation and lack of understanding about economics and economic policy.

It is a widely accepted truism that one must live within their means. 

Supreme Court Accepts Challenge To Voting Rights Act

President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act in 1965

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case filed by Shelby County, Alabama, challenging the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Shelby County is winless in two attempts to undo key sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The county has asked the justices to hear its argument that the federal government no longer needs to closely monitor it and the rest of the South for signs of discrimination against minority voters. 

General Petraeus Resigns as CIA Chief: Cites Extra-Marital Affair

Andrea Mitchell of NBC News reports that General David Petraeus today resigned as director of the CIA after admitting an extra-marital affair.

The former general had been one of the most respected figures in the military and intelligence establishment, but has stepped down to deal with the 'personal and professional issues' surrounding his relationship with a woman who is not his wife.

He had been sworn in as head of the CIA in September 2011.

Romney Campaign Official Says Obama Will Win Florida

Brett Doster, Florida advisor for the Romney campaign, has acknowledged their candidate lost in Florida, according to The Miami Herald.

According to the paper, “The numbers in Florida show this was winnable,” Doster said in a statement. “We thought based on our polling and range of organization that we had done what we needed to win. Obviously, we didn’t, and for that I and every other operative in Florida has a sick feeling that we left something on the table. I can assure you this won’t happen again.”

The numbers in Florida look unlikely to change in Romney’s favor. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Southbridge: Last Democratic Bastion In Southern Worcester County

From President to State Representative, Southbridge stood virtually alone in its support of Democratic candidates in election 2012 in southern Worcester County.

While President Obama did carry a few towns within this geographic Gulag, Southbridge stood alone, a blue oasis in a desert of red, in its support for Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren and Democratic candidate for State Representative Kathleen Walker. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Poll: How Long Before Republicans Try To Impeach Obama?

Having spent the day combing the Conservative blogs and watching Faux News, I think they will honor tradition.

That is the tradition that they began with the last two term Democratic President, Bill Clinton.

Thus, as a public service, and to save the right wingnuts the burden of broaching the subject, The O’Zone is launching a survey. 

Andrew Sullivan Tells Stephen Colbert: Karl Rove’s “head just exploded” (VIDEO)

Andrew Michael Sullivan is a British-American author, editor, political commentator and blogger. He describes himself as a political conservative, though he has been increasingly at odds with the Republican Party on many issues. His focus is U.S. politics but he frequently writes about culture and society.

Sullivan is a speaker at universities, colleges, and civic organizations in the United States. He has been a guest on national news and political commentary television shows in the United States and Europe. Born and raised in England, he has lived in the United States since 1984 and currently resides in New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts. He is an openly gay Catholic.

Sullivan is a former editor of The New Republic and the author of five books. He is perhaps best known as the author and editor of his blog, The Dish, which mainly focuses on political issues.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Obama Winner Of Second Term

Winning Well Is The Best Revenge

Warren Projected To Win Massachusetts Senate Race

From the Huffington Post: 

Elizabeth Warren Election Results: Consumer Advocate Unseats Scott Brown

Fox News Is Already Preparing For An Obama Win

I’ve been sitting here watching Fox News and they are getting ready, even before the first votes are in, to make excuses.

If they know anything they know the truth. How else could they work to twist it so effectively?

Wait to see where they place the blame

Durant Received Significant Money From Outside Special Interests

State representative Peter Durant is among a number of freshman House Republicans who have been the beneficiaries of an informal network of political donors that have helped keep the conservative lawmakers competitive as they try to retain the seats they won just two years ago, according to a report by Matt Murphy of the State House News Service

The freshman lawmaker is facing a challenge from Democrat Kathleen Walker of Charlton. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

No Apologies, No Regrets

I am simultaneously somewhat amused and chagrined by the recent call for me to apologize by Brent Abrahamson. His basis for this is my handling of an exit letter by former SMHS assistant principal Sharon Goulet  published by The O’Zone.

His tortured logic and pious solemnizing demonstrate nothing more than an attempt to justify his one-sided personal agenda in school related matters, his well-known contempt for Scott Lazo and to discredit me because, as he put it in a comment on my site, “…you have chosen a side. You have been a supporter ever since you backed him for state rep. years ago.”