Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014 - Year of the Horse

Press Play for Susan Boyle's Auld Lang Syne

GOP Has Mastered Devolution

From PoliticusUSA

Pew Research just released a poll on Monday showing the American public’s views towards evolution. The poll showed that 60% of Americans agree with the statement that humans and other living things have evolved over time. Meanwhile, 33% stated that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. This is pretty much on par with the results of this same poll four years ago.

However, where the gaps have started to widen more is when we look at political affiliation and religion. In 2009, 64% of Democrats believed in evolution while a majority, 54%, of Republicans also believed in the theory. Fast forward to today and 67% of Democrats believe in the theory of evolution while only 43% of Republicans feel that humans evolved from lower life forms. That is a remarkable 24-point gap between the two political parties. Independents saw virtually no change, as 67% believed in 2009 and 65% believe now. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

An Inspiring Use Of Social Media

Eric Whitacre
If you are unfamiliar with TED talks, they can be among the most compelling illustrations of the potential of the human spirit.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. But it is the inherent nature of the human element that melds these other components into unique and inspiring stories.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Wingnut Carson Coming To Worcester

Dr. Ben Carson
The right loves nothing more than discrediting a progressive voice by being able to label it as coming from Hollywood or academia. But they are quick to cite someone’s credentials when that someone is parroting their favorite talking points.

Such is the case with Dr. Ben Carson who will be visiting Worcester for a much-touted speaking engagement in January. In a previous incarnation he was a widely respected neurosurgeon. With his anti-Obama speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, Carson became one of the right’s favorite new talking heads

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Can Southbridge Hit The “Reset Button” In 2014?

As we enter 2014 and anticipate our town’s Bicentennial in 2016 there is little doubt that Southbridge is a community with serious problems. Is there any way to hit the “reset button?”

Once the hub of economic, industrial and political energy in Southern Worcester County, “The Eye of the Commonwealth” has become an eyesore.

Unfortunately, even saying such a thing seems to automatically brand one as negative and worthy of dismissal.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Reed Contract Still In Limbo

An article posted tonight on the Worcester Telegram website indicates that the proposed contract between Southbridge and Robert Reed for the latter to serve as Acting Town Manager is still hung up over the issue of a town provided vehicle.

In the article titled “Car clause derails Southbridge town manager contract” Brian Lee reports, “After hitting a roadblock over use of a town-issued SUV, officials continue to negotiate with Robert T. Reed about serving as interim manager for six months, Council Chairman David S. Langevin said Friday.” 

[In another article, Brian Lee reports on the turmoil in the leadership of Southbridge Schools. See “Southbridge facing shake-up among principals”.]

December 23 - Happy Festivus (Video)

                                           Ken O’Brien

Are you feeling a little left out!? Are you put off by the crass commercialism of Christmas?  You don't celebrate Chanukah. Kwanzaa just isn't your thing. And, you don't even know what Divali or Ramadan is.

Then, come and experience the joy and the miracle of Festivus. One might say that the Festivus holiday is a miracle in itself.

Still not sure if Festivus is for you? It's non-denominational. So, everyone can partake. The Festivus slogan is "A Festivus for the rest of us!" And, that means you, too. So........... 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Reed Was The Wrong Target

It is fair to say that last Monday’s Council of the Whole town council meeting was not their finest hour. As I’ve expressed elsewhere, I feel that they were bogged down in trivialities while failing to ask the most important question.

To a significant extent the shortcomings were not entirely their fault. While I feel that the final evaluation of Mr. Reed should have been televised (as has been the case with candidates for a permanent town manager) the details of his contract should have been ironed out in private. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fallen Limb Cancels School Committee Meeting

A downed tree limb on Prospect Street near Hartwell Street landed on power lines and caught fire causing a power outage that affected a significant portion of downtown Southbridge.

As a consequence the Town Hall was closed leading to a cancellation of the previously rescheduled meeting of the Southbridge School Committee.

In addition to the regular agenda items, the meeting was scheduled to convene a half hour early to include a reception for middle and high school MCAS honorees as well as John and Abigail Adams Scholarship awardees. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Unasked Question

A key point was ignored in the midst of all the posturing about hiring an Acting Town Manager at Monday night’s meeting of the Southbridge Town Council.

The question that not one councilor saw fit to ask was, “If we can get by for up to six months with a Town Manager serving 20 hours per week at $1,000 per week, why do we need a full timer at more than twice that amount?” 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Southbridge Council Fails To Approve Reed As Acting Town Manager…Amended Contract Submitted For His Approval

By a vote of four to four the Town Council initially failed to approve the proposed employment contract between the Town of Southbridge and Robert T. Reed to serve as Acting Town Manager.

With Council Chairman Langevin absent, the meeting was chaired by Council Vice-Chairman Darlene Marcucci. Councilors Carrasco, Moriarty, Peloquin and Vandal voted against the contract. Voting in favor were Councilors Clemence, Manna, Marcucci and Nikolla. Under Robert’s Rules a tie vote results in defeat of the motion. 

Southbridge School Committee Meeting Rescheduled

The Southbridge School Committee meeting scheduled for December 17, 2013 has been postponed until December 19, 2013 due to a predicted storm.  The School Committee apologizes for any inconvenience; however, the meeting on the 17th was to include a reception for middle and high school MCAS honorees as well as John and Abigail Adams Scholarship awardees.  The decision to postpone was made for the safety of all planning to attend, including those intending to travel from outside the area.   Families have been notified of this change.  The student reception will now take place at 6:30 p.m. on December 19, 2013 in the MacKinnon Council Chambers at Southbridge Town Hall, followed by the Superintendent’s presentation of award certificates at the regular school committee meeting at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Brian's Back

Merry Christmas!

Why Is This Off-Camera?

Posted on the town website is an agenda for a Town Council Meeting of the Whole prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting Monday night. The agenda for the meeting is as follows:

MONDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2013 – 6:30 PM

1. Call Meeting to Order
2. Roll Call
3. Review resume and employment agreement for Acting Town Manager, Robert Reed and to submit to Council for ratification.
4. Adjournment 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Southbridge Town Council Agenda - December 16, 2013



December 16, 2013 –7:00 PM



1. Pledge of Allegiance

2. Roll Call

3. Consider and accept Town Council Meeting Minutes of Monday, December 2, 2013. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Southbridge School Committee Agenda - December 17, 2013

Southbridge School Committee Meeting

: Robert G. MacKinnon Council Chambers, 41 Elm Street

Date: Tuesday, December 17, 2013

                                                                   Time: 7:00 PM

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Featherbedding And Ignorance At Southbridge Town Hall


To those unfamiliar with the term it gained currency in the days when trade unions defended maintaining positions that were viewed as no longer necessary by the management of passenger and freight railways operators.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines the term as follows:
The requiring of an employer usually under a union rule or safety statute to hire more employees than are needed or to limit production.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Art & Craft Sale

 Locally made gifts by artisans & crafters

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 this week, December 11 - 15th, 2013 at 111 Main Street in Southbridge, MA.
Please join us from Noon to 8 pm Wednesday through Saturday and 10 to 6 pm Sunday. You'll find a huge selection of locally made gifts at the  Art Center.                                                                   

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Taxpayers Aren’t Santa

Note: At last week’s town council meeting the town manager noted that the tax rate was determined by the town budget which had already been settled upon last May. In what is becoming an annual ritual I thought it appropriate to reprint a post that The O’Zone first published on December 6th of 2011. If so inclined, you may wish to examine the comments that were made by certain readers at the time this article was first published or last year when it was repeated. 

Crotch Rot

One no longer has to go to a strip club to have women’s private parts in your face. Today vaginas are a cultural meme. And pussy galore has become a bore.

The glorification of the magical nature of the vagina as a means to female empowerment has reached a stage that is beyond self-parody. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Minutes Waltz: Update

Yesterday The O’Zone published an article titled The Minutes Waltz (Or Is It Tap Dance?).

In it we contrasted the minutes of the DPW subcommittee as presented to council members and as read at Monday night’s council meeting with the way the O’Zone reported that meeting in our piece Really? Let’s Hope It’s A Trend!.

In response to a comment on Thursday’s article Evelyn Rivera, who prepared the subcommittee minutes, replied in part, “Minutes are just that "Minutes" not "hours" and therefore I do not write minutes verbatim. No one, I repeat, no one edits my minutes. If anyone is interested in the exact wording of a meeting they should attend such meeting otherwise an abbreviated version is all they are getting from me. I tape such meeting so that if anyone wants to sit there and listen to a meeting (whether it's a 5 min. meeting or a 5 hour meeting) they can do so. I am happy to provide them with a copy.”

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Minutes Waltz (Or Is It Tap Dance?)

Last Thursday The O’Zone ran an article titled ”Really? Let’s Hope It’s A Trend!”.

In it we recounted the discussion in the prior evening’s DPW subcommittee meeting surrounding the second item on the agenda. That item read as follows:

Insofar as we had the contents of that article vetted by two members of the subcommittee who were present at the meeting, we felt reasonably certain that it reflected accurately the nature of the discussion on this item.

No Fracking Way In Massachusetts

Massachusetts isn't rich in fossil fuels, but we’re going to great lengths to keep the fracking industry out of the state. Last week, the Massachusetts State Legislature's Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources approved a 10-year ban on fracking.

The measure would also prevent fracking waste-water from being treated, stored, or disposed of in Massachusetts. The legislation is moving on to the Massachusetts' House Ways and Means Committee, and hopefully, it will then be approved by that state's House and Senate.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ellsbury Bolts Boston For Yankees

From BuzzFeed

In a stunning free agent move, the New York Yankees have signed star Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a massive seven-year contract worth somewhere around $153 million, according to multiple reports.

Ellsbury is well-known for his speed atop the Sox lineup, averaging one steal every three games over his career.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Breaking News: Christopher Olivo Chosen To Fill School Committee Vacancy

Christopher Olivo has been chosen to fill a vacancy on The Southbridge School Committee. The opening was created with the resignation of former School Committee Chairman Patricia Woodruff. The selection was made during a joint meeting of the Southbridge Town Council and the School Committee as mandated by the Town Charter.

Mr. Olivo stated he had been a resident of Southbridge since 2006. He is an active duty member of the Massachusetts National Guard with experience in overseas deployment and is a native of Texas. 

Southbridge Town Council Meeting December 2, 2013 - VIDEO

Tax Rate Set At $19.64

A public hearing on the tax classification system to be adopted by the council and the tax rate to be set for the community precedes the town council meeting.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Southbridge Town Council Meeting Agenda - December 2, 2013





December 2, 2013 – immediately following
6:30 PM Public Hearing


1. Pledge of Allegiance

2. Roll Call

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Shark Jumping At NBC

For those unfamiliar with the term “jump the shark”, I will pull a Rand Paul and quote from Wikipedia (oops! I cited the source):

Jumping the shark is an idiom created by Jon Hein that was used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery, which is usually a particular scene, episode, or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of "gimmick" in a desperate attempt to keep viewers' interest. Its name is taken from a scene from a fifth season episode of the sit-com Happy Days when the character Fonzie jumps over a shark on water-skis.
In its initial usage, it referred to the point in a television program's history when the program had outlived its freshness and viewers had begun to feel that the show's writers were out of new ideas, often after great effort was made to revive interest in the show by the writers, producers, or network.[1][2][3]
The usage of "jump the shark" has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment when a brand, design, or creative effort's evolution loses the essential qualities that initially defined its success and declines, ultimately, into irrelevance.