Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rare Air for Bruins, Sox, and Celtics

Twice in the last four days the Bruins, Red Sox, and Celtics have all won games. Not only is that exciting (especially considering the dramatic fashion in which some of those games have ended), but it is very rare.

Over the 63 seasons in which there have been at least three major league teams in Boston--beginning with the 1946-47 Celtics--there have been only 24 occasions in which three Boston sports teams played and won their games. Three of them have been this spring--April 20 was the other day where we had three winners.

Only once before have we had three three-winner days in a spring. The last time it happened was in April 0f 1974. 1974 is also the last time that both the Bruins and the Celtics qualified for their league championship series in the same season.

19 of the 24 occasions saw the Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox all winning on the same day. On the other five occasions--including the first time on November 25, 1973--it was the Patriots that joined the Bs and Cs in the winners' circle.

I've posted the entire list below, but there are a few dates that stand out:
  • On April 21, 2002, not only did the Bruins and Celtics each win their playoff games, but the Red Sox swept a doubleheader in Kansas City, making that day the only time that Boston has won four games in one day. That day is also one of just three where the Bruins and Celtics both played at hime on the same day.

  • Another such day was April 24, 1983, which one might argue was one of the greatest days in Boston Sports history for sheer drama. Many remember that the Bruins beat Buffalo 3-2 that night in a game 7 overtime to advance to the Wales Conference Finals in one of the greatest Bruins games ever played at the Garden. But earlier that afternoon, the Celtics won their own elimination game as they ended a best-of-three series against the Atlanta Hawks with a 98-79 win. It appears to be the only time the Garden has hosted two elimination games on the same day. The Red Sox did their part wth a 4-2 win in Oakland.

  • April 24, 1977 is the only of these occasions that two Boston teams have victimized rivals from the same city on the same day, as the Bruins beat the Flyers at the Garden and the Celtics defeated the 76ers at the Spectrum. The Red Sox were cruising that day in Toronto.
Here is the list:
DATE      BRUINS         CELTICS           RED SOX
5/12/09 W 4-2 @ CAR* W 92- 88 v ORL* W 4- 3 @ ANA
5/10/09 W 4-0 v CAR* W 95- 94 @ ORL* W 4- 3 V TB
4/20/09 W 4-2 @ MTL* W 115-113 V CHI W 12- 1 V BAL
4/25/02 W 5-2 @ MTL* W 93- 85 V PHI* W 7- 0 @ BAL
4/21/02 W 6-4 V MTL* W 92- 82 V PHI* W 12- 2 @ KC (W 8-7 @ KC)
4/7/01 W 4-2 V NYI W 102-100 @ WAS W 6- 2 V TAM
4/7/99 W 5-2 @ FLA W 108- 87 V WAS W 6- 0 @ KC
4/1/98 W 4-2 @ NYR W 98- 87 @ ORL W 2- 0 @ OAK
4/7/96 W 4-2 @ PHI W 98- 97 V DET W 3- 1 @ KC
4/24/83 W 3-2 V BUF* W 98- 79 V ATL* W 4- 2 @ OAK
4/11/82 W 5-2 @ BUF* W 110-109 @ PHI W 6- 0 @ BAL
4/14/80 W 6-2 V PIT* W 138-121 @ HOU* W 3- 1 V DET
4/13/80 W 8-3 @ PIT* W 100- 81 @ HOU* W 3- 1 @ MIL
4/8/79 W 6-3 V TOR W 127-101 V NJ W 7- 6 @ CLE
4/24/77 W 4-3 @ PHI W 124-119 V PHI W 9- 0 @ TOR
4/11/76 W 4-0 V LAK* W 103- 99 @ WAS W 6- 2 @ BAL
4/28/74 W 6-2 V CHI* W 98- 93 @ MIL* W 5- 4 @ KC
4/21/74 W 8-6 V CHI* W 98- 91 @ NYK* W 6- 5 @ CLE
4/14/74 W 4-3 @ TOR W 113- 88 V NYK* W 7- 5 V DET

12/28/08 W 2-1 @ ATL W 108- 63 @ SAC W 13- 0 @ BUF
12/20/87 W 4-2 @ CHI W 124- 87 V PHI W 13- 7 @ BUF
12/28/85 W 5-1 @ STL W 110-108 @ UTA W 26-14 @ NYJ*
12/16/79 W 5-1 @ BUF W 115-112 @ NJ W 27-23 V MIN
11/25/73 W 3-1 V LAK W 107-101 @ CLE W 32- 0 @ HOU

* - Denotes Playoff Game.


Friday, May 8, 2009

GOP at it again, blame Patrick for Romney's "wheels for welfare" program

I begrudgingly have to give state Republicans credit...they have been doing a great job manufacturing outrage over programs that began under a governor they supported. A couple of months ago, they tried to blame Deval Patrick for Mitt Romney's attempt to collect sales tax on New Hampshire businesses. Now they are going after the governor for another program started during the Romney administration:
Gov. Deval Patrick’s free wheels for welfare recipients program is revving up despite the stalled economy, as the keys to donated cars loaded with state-funded insurance, repairs and even AAA membership are handed out to get them to work....

The program, which started in 2006, distributes cars donated by non-profit charities such as Good News Garage, a Lutheran charity, which also does the repair work on the car and bills the state.

Kehoe defended the program, saying the state breaks even by cutting welfare payments to the family - about $6,000 a year.

“If you look at the overall picture, this helps make sure people aren’t staying on cash assistance. It’s a relatively short payment for a long-term benefit,” Kehoe said.
First, the Boston Herald also incorrectly (or misleadingly) calls it Patrick's program, although a follow-up today does mention that the program began under Romney (the Herald also claims the program began in 2006, but reports from the Department of Transitional Assistance show that it began in 2003). Beyond that, this seems like the perfect Republican program. It hits the following big time Republican positions:

1. The Good News Garage is a Lutheran charity, which means that this is a faith-based program, long a favorite cause of social-conservative Republicans who want more government money to go to churches.

2. It reduces direct cash aid to welfare recipients.

3. It helps move people off welfare and into work.

It was such a good Republican program that none of the Republicans in the State House were interested in killing it during the time that the Romney government funded and administered the program. I wonder what changed.

(And before someone replies that opinions have changed because of the economic crisis, remember that when the Romney administration program started in 2003, the state was also facing a billion-dollar deficit).

So, because of their blind opposition to the current governor, State House Republicans are going to try to kill a plan that moves people off welfare and into jobs, lowers welfare payments, and helps keep a faith-based program afloat.

That's not leadership, that's obstructionism. It's also all Massachusetts Republicans have to offer.

Update: Here is a memo dated May 22, 2006, with Mitt Romney's name on the masthead, outlining the program.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sterling Town Meeting: Vote No on Article 46

Among the articles on the agenda at Monday’s Sterling town meeting is Article 46, which would set guidelines for the erection and use of windmills for electric power. At first blush, it seems like a good idea. But a close reading of the regulations reveals that the proposal would serve mainly to prohibit wind power from all but the largest land owners in town.

Citizens of Sterling should reject Article 46 and ask the Light Board and the Planning Board to come back with a proposal that allows homeowners to pursue wind energy as an option.

The proposed bylaw would set such restrictive rules around the siting of a windmill that it would be nearly impossible to erect one:
Setbacks. The minimum setback for the wind turbine shall be maintained equal to the overall height calculation plus one hundred (100) feet from all property boundaries of the site on which the WECS [Wind Energy Conversion System] is located. In addition, the WECS shall be set back a distance of the Height Calculation plus one hundred (100) feet from any ways, access easements, trails, ascertainable paths and above ground utility lines.

An earlier clause sets the maximum height of a turbine at 100 feet, so a land owner who erected a windmill of the maximum height in the dead center of her lot could only do so if the lot were at least 400 feet across and 400 feet deep (100-foot windmill height plus 100-foot setback on all four sides).

In other words, a maximum height windmill is only available to landowners with at least 3.67 acres of land if the land is completely vacant. If the lot has a home on it with an above-ground electric, phone, or cable lines; or if the lot has a driveway, then the 200-foot setback would be calculated from there.

(A landowner hoping to erect a 50-foot windmill would need a vacant lot 300-feet square, or a little over 2 acres.)

The main point of requiring a setback should be safety—that is, if the windmill were to fall down (or if ice were to fall from a rotor) it shouldn’t land on any cars, homes, your neighbor’s property, etc. Apparently the crafters of Sterling’s bylaw are worried that a fallen windmill will bounce, roll, dance, shimmy, or otherwise move a distance of twice the fall zone. Either that, or they don’t want any windmills in town.

By comparison, here is the setback provision in the model bylaw proposed by the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to assist towns in the crafting of their WECS regulations:
4.1 Setbacks
Wind turbines shall be set back a distance equal to the total height of the wind turbine from all inhabited structures, overhead utility lines, public road or right of way and at least 5 feet from property boundaries.

4.1.1 Setback Waiver
The building inspector may reduce the minimum setback distance if written permission is granted by the entity with care and control over the affected asset.
The state suggests that a turbine needs only to be setback by the height of the structure. It only requires the setback to be from public ways and utility lines (not “trails” or “ascertainable paths”), and it only suggests that it be five feet from your neighbor’s property (assuming that it meets other setback provisions).

The state’s proposed bylaw assumes that wind energy is something to be embraced, and its provisions encourage the use of wind energy. The proposed Sterling bylaw is meant to restrict it.

Now, not every town that has a WCES bylaw is as permissive as the state’s proposal (most that I reviewed included the property line as one of the items required by the setback), but none of the ones I found were nearly as restrictive as Sterling’s. Here are the first ten current or proposed Massachusetts town bylaws that I found by doing a Google search, and their setback requirements:
One of the ten towns requires a setback of less than the height of the tower, four require a setback equal to the height of the tower, and five require setbacks greater than the height of the tower. But even the most restrictive of those only requires a setback of 25 feet.

The Harvard bylaw has not yet been ratified and is before the town meeting this month. Despite setback regulations that are much less confining than Sterling’s, a former member of Harvard’s Wind Energy Conversion Systems Task Force told the Harvard Press that the Harvard proposal was too restrictive:
The way the amendment is currently structured and worded, it is basically a prohibition on residential windmills in Harvard.
The same goes for Sterling. Residents who believe that the town should allow its citizens to pursue alternative sources of energy should join me in voting no on Article 46.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Swine Flu in Stow

The last thing you're going to get from me is panic over a virus that seems to be about as virulent as any other, but since the rest of the world is panicking I thought I'd add a little investigative research to close a loose end from today's newspapers. There is now a case in Stow.

The Sentinel and Enterprise reported today that a student from the Nashoba Regional School District has a case of the flu:
Officials from the Nashoba Regional School District announced Tuesday that medical officials have confirmed one case of swine flu in the district....

The district includes the towns of Lancaster, Bolton and Stow.

Lancaster Board of Health Chairman Robert Baylis said privacy laws prohibit school officials from revealing which of the district's schools the afflicted student attends.
The state Department of Public Health reports that yesterday there was only one case reported yesterday in Worcester County, a seven-year old from Harvard (which caused Harvard to close school). Seven cases were confirmed yesterday in Middlesex County.

Since Lancaster and Bolton are both in Worcester County, the student in the Nashoba District with Swine Flu must be from Stow, the only town in the district from Middlesex County.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"The bad news was the unions..."

I was looking at the official minutes from some recent meetings of the Sterling Board of Selectmen and I came across this summary of the 2010 budget from the April 1 meeting:
The good news was that there would be no layoffs and no pay cuts.

The bad news was the unions, which ultimately cost the town money and the school budget that increases yearly.
The police, firemen, and DPW workers in town are the "bad news." With this attitude from our elected and appointed officials, I'm guessing labor negotiations are a real hoot.



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