Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Council Hypocrisy Regarding The Landfill

The town charter is quite clear that the town council is the chief policy making body of the town.

It is equally clear that appointments to the Board of Health are made by the Town Manager with the approval of the council.

For the last week I have been engaged in a debate on the site Focused On Southbridge.

While I planned to discuss the shortcomings of the Goals and Objectives set for the Town Manager, it quickly devolved into a discussion about the town’s landfill. 

Could Somebody Explain This To Me?

Conservation “savings” don’t seem to add up.

Yesterday I was looking at the second issue of “Celebrating Southbridge”, the Town Manager’s newsletter.

On page two there was an article describing the town’s program to replace all non-efficient lighting in town buildings. The program is underwritten by an “incentive contribution” from the National Grid Energy Initiatives Municipals program.

I’ve reprinted the article below so that I can refer to it in the following commentary.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

AI Bot “Learns” From Twitter

So what happens when you learn about life and the world from Twitter?

Microsoft unwittingly found out in fifteen hours when it launched its artificial intelligence chatbot Tay on Wednesday.

Tay was designed to learn to carry on twitter exchanges based upon its interactions with other twitter users. 

Southbridge School Committee Meeting - March 22, 2016

Is There A Meeting?

UPDATE (11 AM) Councilor Manna has informed me that the presentation will be at a Council Committee of the Whole meeting next Thursday, March 31, at 6 PM.

According to the DESE Commissioner's Update on Southbridge Public Schools Receivership Activities:

SPS and ESE staff members will present the school year 2016-2017 budget at a Southbridge Town Council meeting on March 24. In preparation, ESE staff members are engaging in conversations with the Southbridge Town Manager and SPS principals and administrators to assess the various needs and priorities for the coming school year. The final budget will be published on the SPS website immediately following the March 24 presentation. As I explained in the February memo, Paul Dakin, former Superintendent of Revere Public Schools, continues to provide support to the district and I have asked him to be my point person on the budget development process.

There is still no meeting scheduled for today or this evening according to the town's website. 

Can anyone clarify?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Evaluating TheTown Manager's Goals And Objectives

(for more on this topic see the discussion at Focused On Southbridge)

In Principles of Management by Mason Carpenter, Talya Bauer, and Berrin Erdogan the question is raised “What are goals and objectives?”

The answer of these authors, which is reflective of contemporary managerial thinking, is as follows:

Goals and objectives provide the foundation for measurement. Goals are outcome statements that define what an organization is trying to accomplish, both programmatically and organizationally. Goals are usually a collection of related programs, a reflection of major actions of the organization, and provide rallying points for managers. For example, Wal-Mart might state a financial goal of growing its revenues 20% per year or have a goal of growing the international parts of its empire. Try to think of each goal as a large umbrella with several spokes coming out from the center. The umbrella itself is a goal.

Southbridge Town Council Meeting - March 21, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Commissioner Appoints Jessica Huizenga Receiver of Southbridge Public Schools

 Jessica Huizenga
Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester today appointed Jessica L. Huizenga, Cambridge Public Schools' assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, to be the receiver for the Southbridge Public Schools.

Dr. Huizenga has been an educator since she graduated from college and has worked in districts in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas and South Carolina. She started as a middle and high school history teacher and later served as a principal and district administrator who worked with teachers to align curriculum, target professional development and improve student achievement. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Southbridge School Committee Agenda - March 22, 2016

School Committee Meeting

MacKinnon Council Chambers

March 22, 2016

7 PM


Southbridge School Year 2016-2017 Budget

According to the DESE website Southbridge Public Schools and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education staff members will present the school year 2016-2017 budget at a Southbridge Town Council meeting on March 24. No such meeting is posted on the town's website as of yet.

In preparation, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education staff members are engaging in conversations with the Southbridge Town Manager and Southbridge Public Schools principals and administrators to assess the various needs and priorities for the coming school year. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Town Council Secrets

It is interesting that no video exists of the Town Council meeting as a committee of the whole on March 9.

The only item scheduled for public discussion on the agenda for that meeting was the goals and objectives for the Town Manager during 2016.

The agenda for the upcoming meeting on March 21st does not contain the reading of any minutes from the March 9th meeting. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Trump On Women

Trump Surrogate Says Bernie Doesn't Believe In God

At a Trump rally this morning in North Carolina, Pastor Mark Burns made the following remarks:

As most of us know, Bernie Sanders is Jewish. I wonder how all those people in Israel will feel when they hear that Trump thinks that they don't believe in God?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Facing A Post-Labor Economy

It is not too early for those who scorn Socialism as an alternative to contemporary capitalism to confront a hardcore reality. How will income be distributed when the vast majority of people cannot find even the most menial of jobs?

Computers that can drive cars were never supposed to happen. Even ten years ago, many engineers said it was impossible. Navigating a crowded street isn't mindlessly routine. It needs a deft combination of spacial awareness, soft focus, and constant anticipation--skills that are quintessentially human. 

Southbridge Town Council Meeting - March 7, 2016

Friday, March 4, 2016

Bring on the Robin Hood Tax

Jim Hightower, Salon

The financial transaction tax is not an idea whose time has just now come; it simply has returned. From 1914 to 1966, our country taxed all sales and transfers of stock. The tax was doubled in the last year of Herbert Hoover’s presidency to help us recover from the Great Depression. Today, 40 countries have FTTs, including the seven with the fastest-growing stock exchanges in the world. Eleven members of the European Union (including Germany and France) voted for a financial transaction tax to curtail poverty, restore services and put people back to work.