Friday, November 11, 2016

Why Democrats Lose

Kenneth O’Brien

Well, Now the Democrats have nothing.

No Presidency. No Senate. No House. A minority of State Houses and State Legislatures.

Why is that the case? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Carrasco Challenges State LGBT Law

Southbridge Town Council Chairman, Esteban Carrasco, is among the pastors of four Massachusetts churches filing a lawsuit in federal court. The suit, filed Tuesday against state officials, alleged the pastors are being forced to open church changing rooms, shower facilities, restrooms and other “intimate areas” to people based on their perceived gender identity, and not their biological sex. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Bigots Respond To Being Called Bigots

The bigoted troglodyte over at Everything Southbridge is back again defending the spray-tanned POS and his like-minded supplicants.

Her current Fox News-like version of the truth is outrage over Hillary Clinton’s statement, “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up,...”

As a reminder to her and her like-minded fellow travelers, here’s a video put out by the New York Times back at the beginning of August:

Friday, September 9, 2016

Steven Bliss Arrested On Sex Charges

By Fred Hanson
The Patriot Ledger

The former Superintendent of Southbridge Schools has been arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in Worcester, police said.

Steven Bliss, 46, of 550 Liberty Street in Braintree was charged with offering to engage in sex for a fee and human trafficking following his arrest on Monday.

He was arraigned on the charges Tuesday in Worcester District Court, where he was released on his promise to return on Oct. 17 for a pre-trial conference, a spokesman for Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early said. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Beware The Bomb-Throwers

Clearly the issue of well contamination in Charlton has resulted in frayed nerves and serious health concerns.

However, the use of this issue as a means of attacking Casella, the operator of the Southbridge landfill, has reached absurd levels.

Foremost to blame for this irresponsible behavior is local “activist” John Pulawski. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hypocrisy Over The Clinton Foundation

How many of the dumb-ass members of Congress who are screaming about the Clinton Foundation contributors do precisely what they are supposedly attacking?

Nobody can show that Hillary Clinton did anything more for contributors than possibly meet with them. There is absolutely no evidence that their contributions had any influence on policy.

How many of those same Congress people (to take one example) vote against background checks on gun purchases because of contributions from the National Rifle Association despite the fact that Americans of all stripes overwhelmingly approve such legislation?

This is just one more example of the right creating an issue where none exists. In the process they are wiping out one more force for good in the world.

Monday, August 15, 2016

How Right-Wing Lies Become Mainstream News

The Fox Cycle, Explained
Media Matters

The Fox Cycle is the process by which Fox News pushes right-wing fringe stories into the mainstream news. Fox distorts facts, spreads myths as truths and devotes heavy, one-sided coverage to make viewers believe in baseless, manufactured stories -- and, worse, to convince mainstream media outlets to cover these lies.

The Fox Cycle occurs in six steps: 

Lying Liars Who Lie: 2016 Edition

Rob Taber
The Mormon Press

It was the picture that shattered all of our records.

The idea behind it is simple enough. Take the politicians who have been active enough on the national stage to get fact-checked by PolitiFact at least 50 times since the start of 2007. Look at all of their ratings and tally them. Place the tally in the chart. Not scientific by any means, but interesting. (Update 7/21/2016: Trump's "truthiness" rating, to use Nolan's criterion in his comment of "true" + "mostly true," currently sits at 11%, which is a small gain from the ~7% when the chart was made, but still well behind Michele Bachmann. Hillary's "truthiness" is at 51%, which is largely unchanged. Again, this chart is not scientific and the post is more about the response to the chart than the chart itself.) 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Why a Tax on Wall Street Trades Is an Even Better Idea Than You Know

Robert Reich
One of Bernie Sanders’s most important proposals didn’t receive enough attention and should become a law even without a president Sanders. Hillary Clinton should adopt it for her campaign.

It’s a tax on financial transactions.

Putting a small tax on financial transactions would:

Monday, August 8, 2016

Consultant: Landfill not source of well contamination in Charlton

By Brian Lee
Telegram & Gazette Staff

No available information points to the landfill as the source of contaminated private wells in the area of H. Foote Road in Charlton, the town’s consultant on landfill matters, Tighe & Bond, told councilors Monday.

Last fall, Casella announced 1,4-dioxane was detected in 21 wells in Charlton, with eight exceeding the state drinking water regulation. The state later named Casella the potential responsible party.

Jeffrey Arps, an environmental expert for Tighe & Bond, told the council that groundwater doesn’t travel uphill, and the impacted homes are 80 feet above and northeast of the landfill. Groundwater is flowing in the opposite direction, he said.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Hires Proposed For Landfill Expansion Hearings

Brian Lee
Worcester Telegram 

The lawyer for the Board of Health has proposed hiring a hearing officer and a new consultant for hearings for Casella Waste Systems' push to enlarge one of the state's biggest landfills.

Southbridge Recycling & Disposal Park, a Casella subsidiary, wants to expand the landfill by about 20 acres and to create of a new disposal area encompassing about 14 acres. Casella would build earthen berms up to 60 feet high around the existing landfill. The design change would be considered "a major permit modification." The landfill's most recent alteration, in 2008, was considered a minor permit modification in that it changed the operation to allow disposal of up to 405,600 tons of waste per year. The size of the landfill stayed the same eight years ago.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Evolution Of Trump's Base

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Full List of Donald Trump's Rapidly Changing Policy Positions

NBC News

After a year of campaigning, hundreds of interviews, stadium rallies, and press conferences, it is still difficult to glean a platform from the Republican nominee's powerfully incoherent rhetoric and constantly evolving views.

Donald Trump changes his mind so frequently and so dramatically that a compilation of his current policies would not tell the whole story, nor would it be up to date for very long — he once offered up three different views on abortion in eight hours. By mixing fact with many exaggerations and outright falsehoods in hundreds of interviews while simultaneously refusing to offer specifics — insisting that unpredictability is an advantage he'll use to cut better deals — Trump and the Republican Party that's nominated him are putting forward the most elusive presidential platform in modern history.

Go HERE for a list that was complete as of early this morning.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Trump – Putin’s Pawn In The Oval Office

Ken O'Brien

Is it plausible that a self-centered egotist who has only shown interest in his business concerns and in letting no personal slight go unnoticed would suddenly embrace a campaign for the benefit of so many people he has long considered beneath him?

Lithuanian wall mural
Thirty-five years ago Republicans claimed credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union under Ronald Reagan.

Now that same party has nominated a candidate for President of the United States who is financially and emotionally beholden to Russian oligarchs. 

Donald Trump’s candidacy is driven by the goal of securing a position that will allow him to trade American interests for the benefit of his dreams of an international real estate empire.

Throughout his career Trump has viewed his relationship with politicians as little more than a means to an end. The end is the favorable treatment of his real estate interests. The means has been financial contributions.

Trump’s goals have been coupled with a character dominated by the view that all things are personal – both compliments and slights. And those personal interactions are to be reciprocated – by any means possible.

So what motivates a person consumed by a passion for his business goals to suddenly seem to forsake those interests to pursue a political agenda? 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Trump Stiffs Small Business – Gets Nailed for $300K in Fees

The Miami Herald reported Friday that “Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto, presiding over a lawsuit related to unpaid bills brought by a local paint store against the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort, ordered the billionaire politician’s company to pay the Doral-based mom-and-pop shop nearly $300,000 in attorney’s fees.”

Yes. Another example of Donald Trump stiffing those who do work for him. Not paying his debts. You know, managing money – the thing of which he says he is the master. 

Unions Mean Better Teachers

You know all that stuff you hear about how teachers unions protect bad teachers through the evils of due process and their general badness? A new study for the National Bureau of Economic Research puts the lie to that myth.

The National Bureau of Economic Research is the largest economics research organization in the United States. Many of the American winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences were NBER Research Associates. Many of the Chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers have also been NBER Research Associates. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Reagan Was The Real Villain

Ken O’Brien

The whole basis for the rise of the racist right led by Donald Trump has its foundation in economic grievances.

Underlying all the inflammatory rhetoric against minorities, immigrants and trade is the perception by the middle class that they have lost any prospect for economic stability and growth.

While Trump has seized upon the time-worn themes of demagoguery that blames today’s problems on “those people”, the reality is far simpler. 

He's Back!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

GOP Platform Proposes To Get Rid Of National Parks And National Forests

In this Jan. 27, 2016, file photo, rancher
Cliven Bundy stands along the road near his ranch in Bunkerville, Nev.
The Republican platform committee met this week to draft the document that defines the party’s official principles and policies. Along with provisions on pornography and LGBT “conversion therapy” is an amendment calling for the indiscriminate and immediate disposal of national public lands.

The inclusion of this provision in the Republican Party’s platform reflects the growing influence of and ideological alliance between several anti-park members of the GOP and anti-government extremists, led by Cliven Bundy, who dispute the federal government’s authority over national public lands. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Elizabeth Warren - Native American?

Back in 2012 then Senator Scott Brown made a big issue regarding claims made in the past by his competitor, Elizabeth Warren, to Native American ancestry.

Recently the same issue has arisen with presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump referring to her as “Pocahontas”.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Southbridge Town Council Agenda - July 11, 2016

Town Council Meeting

MacKinnon Council Chambers

July 11, 2016

Immediately Following Swearing-In of Newly Elected Councilors


Friday, July 8, 2016

The Reality Of Southbridge's Pension Commitments

Ken O'Brien

Recent discussions on this site have related to issues confronting Southbridge's finances in the context of real estate taxes.

One area of concern is the town's commitment to financing the long-term costs associated with its retirement obligations to town employees.

This area is frequently overlooked when addressing the town budget. In large part this is a function of the fact that the complexity of the issue is beyond the grasp of many.

As I pointed out in a comment on an earlier post:

 According to the town’s most recent bond offering “The total actuarial liability applicable to the entire system [Southbridge’s retirement plan] at January 1, 2014, was $67,505,108; the unfunded liability of the system was $33,179,035."
In addition other post-employment benefits amounted to $47,599,891 based on the latest actuarial analysis completed July 1, 2013. “As of June 30, 2015, the balance in the OPEB Trust was $513,606.”

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The 9% Factor

Ken O’Brien

Congratulations Southbridge! The results are in.

You’ve officially given up on your town.

I can remember when a good friend of mine lost his race for school committee. At the time he got over 1,100 votes – and he lost.

In our most recent town election the winners got 900 votes or less.

Less than 10% of the town’s registered voters bothered to turn out to vote. 

Apathy has triumphed.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Remember The Line About Chickens Coming Home To Roost?

Just imagine what'll happen if you succeed in your efforts to close the landfill!
(Maybe you should have listened to me a year ago. 
See Reset The Tax Levy Limit)

How Massachusetts Became Ground-Zero for Corporate Education Privatization

What happens when charter schools begin to proliferate in traditional public school districts? In Massachusetts, where K-12 alternatives have had more than two decades to metastasize, it means millions less in annual funding for traditional institutions, and an all-out war in every budget season.

In the Commonwealth’s largest city and state capital, the impact of proposed cuts to Boston Public Schools for next year is already causing stress and anguish. Individual schools are bracing to lose beloved programs, as well as teachers and tutors, and, in some cases, resources for the most vulnerable special needs students. As charter allies boast about their high success rates and sophisticated, wired buildings, those stuck in the ailing BPS systems are in an uproar. And they’re pointing fingers at boosters of what they label corporate education reform. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Charter Boosters Plan To Swift Boat Massachusetts Education

Massachusetts voters will face the choice in November whether to lift a cap on the number of charter schools in the state, and the big money is already rolling in, with some notorious names attached:
Public Charter Schools for MA, the group supporting a referendum to lift the state’s charter school cap, has reserved $6.5 million in advertising for the seven weeks before election day, according to The Tracking Firm, a service that tracks TV advertising spending.
The ads will be produced by DC-based SRCP Media, the same firm behind the infamous “Swift Boat Veterans For Truth” campaign against John Kerry in 2004. The ads will begin airing on Sept. 20. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

DESE Issues Southbridge Turnaround Plan

Southbridge Public Schools Level 5 District Turnaround Plan 
(Click on above link to view plan document)

By Brian Lee 

Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester is at Charlton Street Elementary School this morning for a press conference to unveil a turnaround plan that will guide changes in the chronically underperforming district of about 2,200 students.

The comprehensive 70-page plan includes priorities and strategies to accelerate student achievement and benchmarks connected to student outcomes.

The plan said that the district's state-appointed receiver has the right to lay off teachers and staff, and reorganize, consolidate, or abolish departments, positions or school functions, and create new ones, but does not specify how that would materialize. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Business Idea For Southbridge

After watching the candidates for Southbridge Town Council “debate” I remain essentially unimpressed.

As they have for years they all decried the town’s reliance on landfill revenues and proclaimed their opposition to steadily rising property taxes. The solution according to all of them was to stimulate new business that would expand our tax base as well as provide employment for town residents.

However, not one of them has put forward any kind of plan for such a business or a practical means for enticing any such business to locate in Southbridge. 

Southbridge Town Council Meeting - June 20, 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

Moody’s Analysis Of Trump’s Economic Proposals

How do you suppose a Republican presidential candidate goes about “making America great again”? Well, if we use history as a guide, they implement policies that make America great for the very connected and rich, on the backs of the working class and working poor.

The Moody’s Analytics report on the Republican 2016 presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump’s policies, including policies on taxes, government spending, immigration, and international trade, isn’t pretty. Employment would be reduced by 3.5 million jobs and a heavy recession would hit the nation.  The economy will “weaken significantly” under Trump’s policies. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Southbridge Town Council Agenda - June 20, 2016

Town  Council Meeting

MacKinnon Council Chambers

June 20, 2016

7 PM


We’ve Lost

Bob Garfield
Editor-at-large for MediaPost; Co-host of public radio’s
Peabody Award-winning “On the Media”

Taking heart at Donald Trump’s plummeting favorability numbers? You think he maybe finally jumped the shark by taking a victory lap over the Orlando massacre? You think the Republic is now safe?

It isn’t. The Republic is already sick. It’s like we had a bad clam — a steady diet of bad clams - and the convulsions aren’t likely to stop soon. 

Income Inequality In Massachusetts

End Mass Shootings The Republican Way: Thoughts & Prayers - The Game

In the wake of yet another mass shooting, Americans of all political persuasions are looking for ways to prevent the next tragedy before it happens. And while gun control advocates often disagree about the solution, there’s one group that knows exactly what to do: Republican members of congress. They’re the only people with the moral courage to tell the country the hard truth: the best way to end the mass shooting epidemic—well, second best, after “good guys with guns” everywhere—is to offer thoughts and prayers to the victims. And nothing else. Now, thanks to the folks at GOP Arcade, a new online game gives everyone the chance to be just as effective as a Republican legislator: Thoughts & Prayers: The Game.

Thoughts & Prayers is available to play for free right HERE. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

27 Southbridge Teachers Given Walking Papers

Southbridge school district cuts 27 teachers
By Brian Lee

Twenty-seven teachers with fewer than three years' experience in the district have been told not to come back next year; the number is high, but not a surprise, given the state takeover of the Southbridge public schools earlier this year, the teachers union president said this week.

School districts aren't required to give teachers who haven’t held their positions for three years a reason for not being renewed. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Huizenga Reshapes Central Office

Ms. Huizenga
New Southbridge schools management team bears state receiver's imprint

By Brian Lee

A leadership team with restructured roles has been named for the school district whose woeful retention of administrators - 35 transitions involving 43 people in nine central office jobs in recent years - led to the district being taken over by the state in January.

Despite the district of approximately 2,200 students being 45 percent Hispanic, it did not even have a director of English Language Learners earlier this year.

But it does now, and then some.

Jessica L. Huizenga, the state-appointed receiver for the Level 5 chronically underperforming schools, said William Marinell was appointed chief of learning & innovation, formerly known as assistant superintendent. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Sanders Revolution Must Survive...

Ken O’Brien

Bernie Sanders improbable campaign for the Presidency has reached its end.

His quest to reform the American political scene must not.

The hope and goodwill that Senator Sanders generated among so many must not be allowed to go silently into that good night.

It must not be forgotten that the unique nature of his campaign was its growth from the bottom up. It was and is unlike virtually all modern Presidential campaigns that have been the product of wealth and privilege directed from the top down. 

Charter Schools And Southbridge

Southbridge Town Council Meeting - June 6, 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Who’s Dumber, Trump Or His Supporters?

Ken O’Brien

I have sat back in stunned disbelief as an orange-skinned toupee mannequin has cruised to the Republican nomination for President.

I am now even more steeped in disbelief as I watch the leadership of the Republican Party dutifully assemble in support of this centerfold for Carrot And Moss Monthly. Never has there been more profound evidence of the observation that while Democrats fall in love Republicans fall in line. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dr. Andrae Townsel, New Principal At Southbridge High

The Mobster Candidate For President

By David Cay Johnston

In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license.

But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

10 Year Old Plays Bass With McCartney

It’s The Economy (In Kansas), Stupid!

Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas
As we sit on the verge of another Presidential campaign, the fundamental consideration before Americans is how it will affect the state of the U.S. economy and consequently our daily lives.

Many pundits (most notably those of the Conservative persuasion) frequently point out that the individual states are a laboratory for policy prescriptions before they are adopted on a national level.

With that in mind, it is an object lesson in policy to look at the experience of the state of Kansas. Since the election of a conservative legislative majority and a staunch conservative governor, Sam Brownback, in 2010, it has adopted a full blown commitment to the principles of supply-side economics.