Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Talk Takes Place Of Candid Conversation

Ken O’Brien

Next month the taxpayers of Southbridge can expect to get whacked one more time.

The Town Council will once again go through its annual ritual of hand-wringing while raising the tax rate and most likely maintaining its status as the highest among local communities. 

While we have blessedly been spared the lecturing and hectoring practiced by the former council chairman Cathy Nikolla, we are no better off. The current council leadership has assiduously shied away from controversy.

Nothing could have made this clearer than the action this week in the location of their joint meeting with the Southbridge School Committee. While the agenda contained a number of items of interest to Southbridge residents, Item number 4 (Discuss Unemployment Figures & Costs – Pat Gardner, Superintendent) was of particular note.

However, rather than scheduling this joint meeting in council chambers facilitating broadcast, it was held at the middle/high school library. There was no competing use for the council chambers Thursday night. Even if there had been, the Town Council and School Committee would have taken precedence. In addition, the Town Hall is open later on Thursday nights.

 I have wracked my brain on why this choice of venue. All things considered the only conclusion to which I can come is an effort to conceal the specifics of what was said at the meeting from the public.

Not that the local cable access channel was any help. Inquiries indicated that they were making efforts to make this meeting available for broadcast. Perhaps this was true. However, the agenda filed with the Town Clerk’s office indicates that it was filed on October 23rd, a full week before the meeting. Why wasn’t there time to use the facilities that were in ample supply at SMHS to prepare for this meeting to be televised?

There seems to be a concerted effort to focus public attention on a bicentennial celebrating fifty years of community decline and other diversions such as councilors and public officials participating in the dunk tank at Southbridge Fest. However, there do remain a few of us at least who would like to be aware of what is going on in our town other than bread and circuses. 

Perhaps it is past time to pay more than lip service to the concept of transparency in local government.


  1. Well that crack school department corrected their error filled website today. The FACE subcommittee meeting has been declared to be at 25 Cole Ave.
    How much did it cost for these corrections to be made on Sunday? Sounds like DOUBLE TIME. WAY TO HO SPS

  2. “Rotten Apples"November 3, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    is a fascinating "Time" Magazine article recently written by: Haley Sweetland Edwards. It addresses the topic of Teacher Tenure.

    Sub-titled: "It's nearly impossible to Fire a Bad Teacher. Some Tech Millionaires may have found a way to change that."

    Brazen partisan, David Welch, is quoted as saying "The current educational system destroys children's lives by giving "sub-par" teachers tenure."

    "The Vergara ruling agreed, stating that tenure violated student rights."

    Refer: Vergara v. California.

  3. The town website indicates that there is a "meeting of the whole" school committee in room M115 at Cole Avenue school tonight at 6:00 PM. Is this a fact, or another website goof?

    1. Another Secret-Squirrel Meeting?November 5, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      What, another secret-squirrel meeting by McLoughlin and Donovan? I looked and didn't see this meeting on the school district website. Why not? What are the girls trying to hide? Transparency?????


    2. Another Secret-Squirrel Meeting?November 5, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      Several reliable sources have confirmed this meeting. Interesting that it does not appear on the Southbridge.k12 website. Not enough central office help? Or the public is not really welcome?

    3. I suspect it might be to announce who 'the special investigator' will be - which means the 30 day clock will start tonite - hmm...Ms Gardner has certainly had plenty of time to destroy / conceal any 'evidence' (as she said she would do); perhaps all parties involved in the complaint have hard copies of notes/memos/texts etc - tho, unless you record a conversation it is difficult when in a he said/she said -she said/she said scenario. And of course, none of this will be on film; hope there are a few brave souls who pop in on this mtg.

    4. Was there a meeting tonight or not?

  4. 10:1 Gardner opts for sick time. She'll cite UNDO STRESS. Time frame: just B4 the on set of winter.


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