Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bernie Sanders Announces 2016 Presidential Run

Senator Bernie Sanders held a press conference this afternoon to officially announce his 2016 run for the White House. Sanders spent a great deal of his announcement taking questions from reporters and laying out his agenda for the country, focusing on the wealth gap and the billionaire class that is “literally able to buy elections.”

May Day Festival Returns At The QVCAH

May Day Festival returns at the QVCAH

Saturday, May 2nd, 12-6pm 

Spring is here and we are ready to celebrate! Come join us for our annual May Day Festival at the Arts Center. We will have music, dancing, arts and crafts faire, beer and wine garden, traditional foods, children's activities and games, the May Queen pageant, and of course, the May Pole!
Admission is free, and all are welcome to attend.

The Gulag That Is Southbridge

Ken O’Brien

How did things get so bad?

As a Worcester blog recently said, “Southbridge is where you move when you’ve hit rock bottom in Webster.”

For at least twenty years Southbridge has had its contingent of community boosters who have proclaimed that all of our problems stem from negative attitudes. As a result, their response has been to apply so many layers of makeup that we now reside in one of the most attractive pigs in Massachusetts.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What’s Happening With The Landfill?

Ken O’Brien

Today a meeting was held at the Southbridge Town Hall under MEPA, the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act administered by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The meeting involved a presentation relating to the plan by Casella to expand the footprint of the town landfill.

The matter was brought to the town’s attention on Monday night by local citizen John Pulawski appearing at the Town Council meeting.

Following his statement Councilor Denise Clemence responded that the Council had been advised of Casella’s intent and encouraged any interested Southbridge residents to attend today’s meeting.

No Cause Yet In Warren Street Fire

Ken O’Brien

A three-alarm fire overnight damaged a home at 92 Warren Street.  One Southbridge firefighter went to Harrington Hospital after the fire for possible smoke inhalation, and was treated and released.  Both residents of the home and their pets got out safely, said Southbridge Fire Chief Mark W. DiFronzo. Investigators have not yet disclosed the cause of the blaze.

Reports indicate that the fire started in a toolshed and was caused by a battery charger.

Firefighters got the call to the home at about 11:47 p.m. Tuesday and remained on the scene until about 3 a.m. Wednesday. Chief DiFronzo said the fire started at the rear of the property, extended into the house and caused heat and smoke damage to the inside of the home. 

Southbridge School Committee Meeting - April 28, 2015

Below you will find the April 29 meeting of the EHS subcommittee on the School Department Budget

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Citizen Complains About Police

Ken O’Brien

Appearing at last night’s Town Council Meeting, Southbridge citizen Steve Demers leveled allegations against the Southbridge Police Department.

Saying that he has experienced four break-ins at his home on Hartwell Terrace, three since mid-January, Mr. Demers indicated the lack of serious attention from the local department. Among his complaints was the mishandling of a surveillance video provided to the police. At the request of an Assistant District Attorney at the Dudley District Court he sought to regain possession of the video presented to the department. The police were allegedly unable to locate the video. This resulted in his need to replicate it in order to meet the ADA’s request.

Abrahamson Melts Down At Council Meeting

Ken O’Brien

Emulating the Wicked Witch when doused with water, School Committee member Brent Abrahamson staged another public meltdown at last night’s Town Council Meeting.

Speaking as an individual, rather than on behalf of the School Committee, Mr. Abrahamson voiced his displeasure with recent comments aired by the Town Manager and Council Members in a recent article in the Worcester Telegram.

State Takes Over Holyoke Schools

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education declared Holyoke Public Schools a "chronically underperforming" Level 5 district on Wednesday.

With that rating, Holyoke Public Schools is placed under the control of the state and will be managed by a receiver.

This vote follows a highly attended forum on Holyoke Public Schools in the city Monday night, where the school community largely asked city schools remain under local control. 

Southbridge Town Council Meeting - April 27, 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015

Southbridge Weekly Bulletin

Welcome to the new Southbridge Weekly Bulletin from, your source for discovering the best local info & upcoming Things To Do activities around Southbridge.

We hope you will share this bulletin with your friends in the community, and we invite your organization to get involved and get the word out about your upcoming events & activities!


Friday, April 24, 2015

Southbridge School Committee Agenda - April 28, 2015

Southbridge School Committee Meeting

MacKinnon Council Chambers

April 28, 2015

7 PM


Regarding The Superintendent Search

Ken O’Brien

Back in May 2010 The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued a report titled Southbridge Public Schools - Level 4 District Review.

At the time the district was facing the departure of Superintendent Dr. Dale Hanley.

Here is what the State had to say on the subject of finding her replacement at the time. 

Southbridge Town Council Agenda - April 27, 2015

Southbridge Town Council Agenda

MacKinnon Council Chambers

April 27, 2015

7:00 PM


Thursday, April 23, 2015

What Does The Tea Party Really Want – IV

Ken O’Brien

The preceding installments have shown that the stated goals of the Tea Party - a reduction in the U.S. national debt and federal budget deficit by reducing government spending and taxes – have essentially been met.

To go further in that direction would result in cutting into government programs in ways that even the Tea Partiers themselves have shown in public polling that they oppose.

Nevertheless, the Tea Party continues, in various incarnations, to exert a strong attraction for current and prospective Republican candidates. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What Does The Tea Party Really Want – III

Ken O’Brien

The comparison below from the New York Times helps tell the tale of the alternative budget scenarios. Under President Obama's proposal, tax revenues over the next decade would average 19 percent of GDP a year, compared to 17.5 percent in FY 2014. The president raises $1.55 trillion in additional revenue, much of it from a one-time tax on businesses' foreign income and by capping deductions and exclusions for high earners. While spending—including new investments in universal pre-K education, free community college and expanded infrastructure—would reach 22.1 percent of GDP by 2025, that level would still be less than the Reagan and Obama era highs. The 2025 deficit of 2.7 percent of GDP would be in line with the current 50-year average dating back to 1965. (The People's Budget proposed by Congressional progressives would raise significantly more revenue—21.2 percent of GDP over 10 years—while spending more—22.8 percent—to fund major new infrastructure and jobs initiatives as well as new education programs and expanded Social Security benefits.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What Does The Tea Party Really Want - II?

Ken O’Brien

The chart below (prepared by the Congressional Budget Office) tells an important part of the story. Since 1965—the year Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs were signed into law—federal spending has averaged 20.1 percent of America's total economic output. During the same five-decade time frame, Uncle Sam's revenue has averaged 17.4 percent of GDP per year. But across that span, Washington produced a balanced budget in only five years. In 1969, a booming economy and LBJ's Vietnam surtax filled the Treasury's coffers to 19 percent of GDP. Uncle Sam was also in the black from fiscal years 1998 through 2001, as the Clinton expansion and the dotcom boom (with its large capital gains paydays) brought in a tax revenue haul that reached 20 percent in 2000.

Six MASSDOT Board Members Agree To Resign

By Matt Murphy State House News Service

John Jenkins
All six members of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board whose resignations were sought by Gov. Charlie Baker have agreed to step down, paving the way for Baker to remake the leadership team in charge of the embattled MBTA.

Almost a week after Baker and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack requested the resignations of the board members, all of whom were appointed by the governor's predecessor Deval Patrick, the officials on Tuesday complied either verbally or in writing. Pollack is the only person who will remain on the board.

"The Governor is grateful for all of the members' service to the Commonwealth, is thankful for their recommendations and looks forward to assembling a new team of transportation experts to assist MassDOT," Baker spokesman Tim Buckley said.

Consider The Source

Ken O’Brien

The release of a new book called “Clinton Cash” has the right claiming that it will blow the lid off of the Clinton campaign and have the Democratic Party throwing in the towel on 2016 in no time. The book is about the nefarious doings of the evil Clinton Foundation, a non-profit supposedly dedicated to doing good works around the globe, but which conservatives say is actually nothing more than a corrupt organization dedicated to selling out the interests of poor people everywhere so that Hillary Clinton can destroy the world. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

What Does The Tea Party Really Want - I?

Ken O’Brien

The Tea Party as a political movement traces its origin back to 2009. It is known for its conservative positions. It demands a reduction in the U.S. national debt and federal budget deficit by reducing government spending and taxes. In many ways it constitutes the conservative core of the contemporary Republican Party.

During a recent floor speech, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) described conservative objectives this way: "A balanced budget approved by Congress will help make the government live within its means and set spending limits for our nation. Hard-working families are fed up with [President Obama's] spend-now, pay-later policies and are closely following our effort [on] a balanced budget." 

Southbridge Weekly Bulletin

Welcome to the new Southbridge Weekly Bulletin from, your source for discovering the best local info & upcoming Things To Do activities around Southbridge.

We hope you will share this bulletin with your friends in the community, and we invite your organization to get involved and get the word out about your upcoming events & activities!


(April 24)                               (April 22)                               (April 25)
    Rhythmic Circus         Earth Day Library Cleanup        Andrew

The End!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Moriarty Comments On School Budget

Other Officials Speak Out in Telegram Article

Town Council Chairman Shaun Moriarty has commented on the proposed School  budget on his
FaceBook page.

"Not only do I question whether it would be appropriate to provide such an increase to a school district that has been mired in perpetual transitions, practically in every key leadership position, for a number of years now.

"The assertion that we should be adding money to exceed what was there for a recent high-water mark in 2012 is interesting, but flawed. What was student performance in 2012? Were on the right path three years ago? This current School Committee, I imagine, would say we were not in a good place in 2012 ... just as we are not in a good place right now. According to the DESE profile of our school district, the percentage of the per pupil expenditure being used for "administration" has climbed each of the last three years recorded (though, admittedly, data from 2014 is not made available there as yet). 

How Do We Fix Our Schools?

Ken O’Brien

With the election for local cities and towns on the horizon, recently conducted interviews with candidates for the Worcester School Committee.

While Worcester is substantially larger than Southbridge, it shares many characteristics with our community.

Both are level IV public school districts.

Seasonally Adjusted Southbridge Is Number 5 in Massachusetts Unemployment

Ken O’Brien

Adjusting for seasonal factors, Southbridge has the fifth highest rate of unemployment in Massachusetts at 8.5%.

The figures for the qualified communities are as follows:
Community           Rate
FallRiver              10.8%
New Bedford       10.4%
Lawrence             10.0%
Springfield            9.6%
Southbridge          8.5%
Hinsdale               8.5%

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spending Our Way Out Of Level IV

Ken O’Brien

Today’s Worcester Telegram contains an articles by Brian Lee titled “Southbridge schools seek big budget hike”.

In that article Acting Superintendent of Schools Sheryl Stanton makes the observation, “Southbridge is a Level 4 underperforming district with 2,262 students. It projects an enrollment increase of 88 students in 2015-16, Ms. Stanton said.
Its per-pupil spending is $13,366. But similar districts that are working to shed their underperforming status, such as Salem, Holyoke and Randolph, spend $14,873, $16,151 and $15,587, respectively.”

She doesn’t mention other school districts that are also Level IV such as Athol-Royalston, Fall River and New Bedford that spend $13,378, !3,534 and $12,802 per pupil respectively.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Southbridge School Committee Budget Hearing and Meeting - April 14, 2015

A Slow Walk To Nowhere

Ken O’Brien

Video Below
Last night the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC), Glenn Koocher, appeared before the Southbridge School Committee.

Mr. Koocher appeared in the context of presenting the MASC’s potential role in running the town’s search for a new superintendent of schools.

You will recall that the School Committee appeared to bow to public pressure back on February 10th by voting to conduct such a search.

Now, only two months later, Mr. Koocher appeared as the representative of the only organization that has expressed a firm willingness to undertake such a task.

However, his ardor for pursuing such a task was distinctly lukewarm. At least it was in terms of pursuing it now. 

Southbridge Town Council Meeting - April 13, 2015

Southbridge Town Council of the Whole Meeting - April 7, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Southbridge Mid/Hi School Students Sent Home

Massachusetts State Police bomb squad responds

Ken O'Brien

(Updated 1:35 PM) Students at the Southbridge Middle/High School have been sent home for the day.

A posting on the school website says, "Due to an unanticipated issue at the middle high school, the building has been evacuated. Because the students are not clear to re-enter the building at this time, we have contacted the bus transportation company for students to be sent home within the hour. If your child does not take bus transportation, please arrange for someone to pick your child up at the middle/high school.
All children are safe and accounted for and there is no danger to the student population."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

From The Joad Family To Welfare Queens

As it increases its hold on the American political system, the right is gradually unmasking its contempt for the poor.

That “unmasking” is behind two recent bills that caught the internet’s attention this week. Kansas and Missouri’s legislatures are working to target the social services provided to the state’s welfare recipients, limiting how people on welfare can use their assistance. In Missouri, a bill awaits Gov. Sam Brownback’s approval that would ban soda, energy drinks, cookies, and chips. Curtailing spending on snacks and soft drinks might be defensible from a public health angle (former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg would be a fan), but the state is also targeting steak and seafood—which speaks, ironically, less to concerns about welfare and more about policing what poor people do.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Scapegoat Economics

In the wake of the economic crisis of 2008 the United States has repeatedly participated in the blame game with immigrants and with ethnic minorities. Now it is extending domestic scapegoating to still others. Governors in the US now increasingly attack state employees, their unions and pensions as if they, rather than the crisis, had suddenly become the economic problem. Mayors across the country do the same to municipal workers. Of course, both state and municipal budget problems since 2008 are primarily the results of high unemployment and reduced consumer spending. In short, it was and remains the crisis since 2008 that played and plays the key role in cutting governments' tax revenues and hurting government budgets. Growing and more effective tax-evasion strategies of business and the rich have had the same effect. Responding to lowered tax collections, politicians fearful of damage to their careers refuse to raise tax rates. Instead they embrace spending cuts that they justify by means of scapegoat economics. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Southbridge School Committee Agenda - April 14, 2015

Southbridge School Committee Meeting

MacKinnon Council Chambers

April 14, 2015

7 PM

Public Hearing on the Fiscal 2016 Budget at 6:30 PM


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Southbridge Town Council Agenda - April 13, 2015

Southbridge Town Council Meeting

MacKinnon Council Chambers

April 13, 2015

7 PM


Prison Profiteers

by Chris Hedges from Truthdig

If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states. Once you disappear behind prison walls you become prey. Rape. Torture. Beatings. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. Racial profiling. Chain gangs. Forced labor. Rancid food. Children imprisoned as adults. Prisoners forced to take medications to induce lethargy. Inadequate heating and ventilation. Poor health care. Draconian sentences for nonviolent crimes. Endemic violence.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Moriarty Changes Position On Insurance Vote

Ken O'Brien

Council Chairman Shaun Moriarty voted against the proposal to have the insurance plan for town employees mirror the GIC benchmark plan at the March 23rd meeting of the Town Council. With the proposal scheduled to be taken up again tonight, Councilor Moriarty has changed his position.

He explained his change of heart earlier today on his FaceBook page.

Turning Around Southbridge Schools

Ken O’Brien

“Across the United States, approximately 1,235 high schools serving 1.1 million students—only 5 percent of the nation’s high schools—have graduation rates at or below 67 percent. While the high school graduation rate recently reached 81 percent in 2013, the number of chronically failing high schools remains much too high. Among this group of failing public high schools, approximately 7 percent of students—who are overwhelmingly low-income students of color—are attending schools where it is not likely that they will go on to college or career.”

So reported the Center for American Progress in Dramatic Action, Dramatic Improvement: The Research on School Turnaround issued at the end of last month.

On January 27 of this year, in an article titled “Graduation rates up, dropouts decline”, the Worcester Telegram reported that Southbridge had a dropout rate of 69.9%, just missing the cutoff referenced above. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Council Needs To Observe Procedure

Ken O’Brien

The Town Council Rules and Regulations are quite explicit. Rule 18 states,

All rules of procedure not considered herein shall be governed by “Roberts Rules of Parliamentary Procedure”.

This rule has a significant bearing on the agenda that has been issued for the Council’s Meeting of the Whole this Tuesday. 

The Huffington Post Interview With Elizabeth Warren

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Moriarty For State Senate: An April Fools’ Joke?

It was a joke!!! HA HA

Ken O’Brien

In a posting on another site Southbridge Town Council Chairman Shaun Moriarty makes a surprising announcement.

According to the post, Mr. Moriarty will not seek reelection to the Southbridge Town Council. Instead, “After much discussion, debate and consideration in recent weeks and months” he has decided to run for State Senate.

Naturally, given the calendar, one has to ask, “Is this an April Fools’ Day joke?” 

April Fools' Day