Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Earl: 5% Chance of "$10 billion disaster" in New England

I was just reading the Tropical Weather Blog at Weather Underground and was surprised to read this:
A deviation to the left, with a direct hit on eastern Long Island and Providence, Rhode Island, would probably be a $10 billion disaster, as the hurricane would hit a heavily populated area and drive a drive a 5 - 10 foot storm surge up Buzzards Bay and Narragansett Bay. The odds of this occurring are around 5%, according to the latest NHC wind probability forecast.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! The chance that Saturday morning we will begin cleaning up from a "$10 billion disaster" that would rival the Hurricane of 1938 are 1-in-20? This is news, no?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Worwtown Fleet: Leominster

In a show of support for Jeff Barnard, Worcester's premier web columnist who is waging a battle against cancer, area bloggers are taking up his practice of snapping photos of Central Massachusetts from their cars and posting the scenes on their sites. The snapshots have been a staple of Wormtown Taxi over the years. The producer of Nicole, Worcester--a must-read if you care about Worcester at all--is the brainchild behind the idea.

While I don't carry a camera with me in the car most of the time, I have taken thousands of road photos as part of my delayed quest to drive and photograph every state highway in Massachusetts. So in support of Jeff, I'll be periodically posting some of my favorites here.

This shot is of a 1940s-era sign for route 12. The sign is attached to a sign post on the southbound side of Main St. in downtown Leominster and is most likely the oldest route sign still in use in Massachusetts. In fact, I'd wager that it might be one of the 10 oldest--if not the oldest--still in use on a highway in America.

For more scenes, Nicole has set up a blogroll of posts made specifically in tribute to and in support of Jeff.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Jump on in, the water is great!

What are you doing standing on the sidelines? Jump on in to the pool at The water is great and the stories are even better! Here's what you missed today...

Foley v. Telegram
Worcester County Sheriff Candidate Thomas Foley (D-Worcester) has reacted forcefully to the Telegram's reporting last week of his disability pension. In a nearly 1,300-word letter to supporters that he posted to his Web site earlier this week, Foley accused Telegram reporter Shaun Sutner of treating his campaign unfairly and charged that his opponents were engaging in unfair campaign tactics...(read more)

Friday Roundup: Lamb's voting record in question
A Telegram report claims that "In previous elections, Mr. [Martin] Lamb says he has almost always voted Republican, but he conceded he didn’t vote for Ronald Reagan the first time Mr. Reagan ran for president." That does not jive with an earlier Telegram report. Last month, Shaun Sutner reported that Lamb "voted as a Democrat in state and presidential primary elections in 2006, 2004 and 2000."...(read more)

Bill Gunn clarifies remarks on Islamic Center
On Tuesday, The Sentinel and Enterprise wrote that First Congressional District challenger Bill Gunn (R-Ware) suggested that building a "pork factory" would be an appropriate response to the planned Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan a few blocks from Ground Zero...Following my note on the piece in Wednesday's Gunn posted a comment to the entry, putting the discussion into a fuller context...(read more
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Here is what you've been missing...

Here is what you've been missing over the last two days if you aren't reading

Wednesday State House Roundup: Debate days
The Ayer Democratic Town Committee hosted a debate between the three Democrats vying for the First Middlesex District nomination. While Jane Moriss (D-Groton), Jesse Reich (D-Ayer), and Tony Saboliauskas (D-Pepperell) agreed on many issues they split over the proposed repeal of the affordable housing law known as 40B...(read more)

Candidates weigh in on Islamic Cultural Center, one wants to build "pork factory"
Since the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" is the cultural issue du jour, the candidates spoke with the Sentinel and Enterprise. One, Bill Gunn (R-Belchertown) is so incensed he wants to make sausages next to the Islamic Center in an effort to antagonize organizers...(read more)

Wednesday Congressional Roundup: Out like a Lamb
Tuesday was a busy day on the campaign trail in the Third Congressional District, with many of the candidates out on the campaign trail. Michael Lamb (R-Holliston) made a stop in Fall River, where he criticized Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester) for allowing the federal deficit to rise...(read more)
Thursday Congressional Roundup: Immigration dominates debate
Four of the five challengers for the Third Congressional District seat held by Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester) squared off last night in a Shrewsbury debate. The forum, sponsored by the Shrewsbury League of Women Voters, gave Brian Herr (R-Hopkinton), Michael Stopa (R-Holliston), Martin Lamb (R-Holliston), and Robert Delle (R-Paxton) a chance to differentiate themselves from each other, however slightly. One area where there was both some consensus and disagreement was on immigration policy...(read more)

State House Roundup: Prickly debate in 13th Worcester
The six candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 13th Worcester District squared off in a 90-minute debate yesterday at Anna Maria. From the looks of the Telegram photo, the event was a greuling one for the participants. According to the report the dialogue became testy at times, with more than one tart exchange between dueling candidates...(read more)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Roundup: Harrington's new idea

This week, sister publications Lowell Sun and Sentinel and Enterprise are profiling candidates for the First Middlesex House seat being vacated by Robert Hargraves (R-Groton). Two Republicans are vying for the nomination, and one of them, Sheila Harrington (R-Groton) is advancing a proposal that I've not seen before:
GROTON -- For many workers, landing a competitive job in Massachusetts means they may not be able to work in the same field, should they ever resign or get laid off.

That's because, says Sheila Harrington, many employers ask workers to sign a contract that prohibits them from seeking a similar job elsewhere or starting a business in which the skills and knowledge they acquired on the job might come in handy. The Bay State court is known for enforcing the contractual agreement -- so much so that skilled professionals are afraid to use their talents outside the corporate shadows, Harrington says.

Harrington believes limiting the scope the non-compete clause and the range of workers to whom such contracts may be applied is crucial to creating more jobs in Massachusetts.

"If you want to stimulate more jobs in Massachusetts, you have to be more creative" than simply rolling back the sales tax, Harrington says.
I'm skeptical that there are that many people still out of work because of non-compete clauses. Even so, it's refreshing to see a candidate talk about something different than taxes, casinos, and immigration for a change.

While I don't think reporter Hiroko Sato meant the profiles of Harrington and Connie Sullivan (R-Ayer) to be contrasting pieces, it looks like Harrington is taking a veiled shot at Sullivan when the profiles are read one after the other:
AYER -- Discouraging Massachusetts consumers from crossing the state border is one of Cornelius "Connie" Sullivan's economic stimulus strategies.

Lowering the sales tax would help create many more jobs in the state, and that's evident from how stores were hiring people for the tax-free weekend, Sullivan says....

He supports rolling back the sales tax to 5 percent -- or as low as 3 percent if voters are willing to. That would require the state to scale back on spending, but the state government has "plenty of fat" to trim anyway, he says...
Presumably, the Sun and Sentinel will be looking at the Democratic candidates on the days to come.

On to other things...

Second Franklin House District
The four candidates for the Democratic nomination will face off in a forum at 6:00 pm at the Greenfield Community Television studios. GCT is pretty good about posting their events online, and we will post a link on once it becomes available.

Lee Chauvette (D-Athol) was interviewed by Athol author James Joseph Brown.

Second Congressional District
Jay Fleitman (R-Northampton) tells the Telegram that the federal stimulus was "a disaster," the Gulf oil spill was "handled horribly," and that Afghanistan is "an abject mess."
Fifth Congressional District
Sam Meas (R-Haverhill) gave a wide-ranging interview to the Haverhill Gazette. He said the number one reason he is running is:
First, there is a huge lack of choice in Massachusetts. There is one dominant party, and many are running unopposed. It is the antithesis to democracy. We've spent $1 trillion on two wars trying to give them the freedom of choice, but we do not have it here. To me, that's important. If Republicans were the dominant party, I'd say the same thing.
Third Congressional District
The Boston Globe reports that James McGovern (D-Worcester) co-authored a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking her to protect food stamp funding in a proposed child nutrition bill.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday roundup: Pension talk still driving sheriff's race

If a small snapshot is any indication, the political talk around Worcester  is still centered on the Worcester County Sheriff's race, where discussion of Governor's Councilor Tom Foley (D-Worcester) and his disability pension continues as we begin a new week. The topic was discussed this morning on WCRN-AM's The Midday Report with Hank Stolz. While there is no podcast of the show available, most of the callers sounded like they were more apt to blame Foley for running for office while collecting disability than to blame the odd pension system that would allow him to collect while being sheriff (should he be elected).

For better or worse (depends, I suppose, or which candidate you support), today marks the fifth day of discussion of Foley's disability pension. Dianne Williamson broke the ice in the Telegram with a column on Thursday, followed by notes from Shaun Sutner on on Friday and in the print edition on Sunday.

Coincidentally, Foley's supporters have come out in force over the weekend. Whether in response to the stories or because of the calendar (yesterday was 30 days before primary election day), Foley lawn signs have been sprouting like clover in this area. This morning I drove through Clinton on my way to 495 and counted 24 Foley signs in the 2.6 miles between the Lancaster town line to the west and the Berlin town line to the east.

Speaking of the Telegram, if you are trying to access the stories lined above and find yourself banging your head against the (fire)wall, it's because the T&G has begun charging non-subscribers for online access to most locally-produced articles. I have an on-line account and will continue to include links to the Telegram in my stories, but how much access you, the reader, will have is anyone's guess.

On to a very short roundup...

Third Congressional District
The Telegram keeps up its profiles of Congressional candidates, this time checking in on Brian Herr (R-Hopkinton). Herr briefly outlined some of his positions:
Like his opponents in the primary, Mr. Herr wants to cut government spending. He supports unemployment benefits in this “scary time,” but doesn't support borrowing money to extend benefits. He believes the government should provide services for vulnerable populations such as people with disabilities, as long as cuts are made elsewhere.

Schools, he contends, are best run at the local level, so he wonders why the country needs a U.S. Department of Education with a budget in the tens of billions of dollars.

He slammed a bill Congress passed last week to restore public jobs as more unnecessary spending.

He believes spending cuts need to come before new tax cuts.
Herr also claims to have more than 4,000 Facebook friends.

Fifth Congressional District
Sam Meas (R-Haverhill) has added former Haverhill Mayor Mike Sullivan as an advisor. He is also apparently "Bad to the Bone."

Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Senate District
Fifth Worcester House District
Sen. Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) and Rep. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) spearheaded a bill to allow the Worcester County 4-H Club to lease land from the state for the next 25 years.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Weekend roundup: I've been everywhere, man

It's awfully difficult for a challenger to dominate the media cycle against an well-financed, high-ranking incumbent, but Tom Wesley (R-Hopedale) managed to do just that Friday in his Second Congressional District race against Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield). We'll start with the Telegram, where Wesley was the feature of Friday's candidate profile:
Mr. Wesley explained that these are tough economic times and that people have to be careful with their finances. He quickly added, however, that this election is about more than raising money.

“I see it as my patriotic duty,” he said when asked why he was running. “I'm fighting for unborn generations.” termed a lynchpin election, which means in his opinion the American way of life is at stake and people are angry with what has been happening on Capitol Hill.
In addition, Wesley was all over the radio, appearing on Springfield's WAQY-FM and WHYN-AM. He has also continued videotaping while driving.
For his part, Neal has received praise from the unlikeliest of sources. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has endorsed Neal's bill to provide for automatic enrollment in IRAs for employees of small businesses:
The Automatic IRA is a conservative, market-oriented solution to help address our retirement savings crisis. It would increase the proportion of Americans who can save for retirement at work from 50 percent to 90 percent, make it simple for small business owners to offer IRAs to their employees, and create low-cost accounts that an employee can understand and use without having to be a financial expert.
Neal's proposal has also been endorsed by the more liberal Brookings Institution.


Third Congressional District
Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester) continues to keep the pressure on Congress and the Obama administration over the cut in food stamp aid that was part of the $26 billion jobs bill:
"President Obama pledged to end childhood hunger by 2015," McGovern pointed out. "It's hard to see how you do that while you're cutting food stamps.''
Fifth Congressional District
In the Sentinel, columnist Peter Lucas calls Tom Weaver (R-Westford) "the most qualified candidate you never heard of."

Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) was in Harvard to tout federal funding for a 220-kilowatt solar power facility at Carlson Orchards.

First Middlesex District
Tony Saboliauskas (D-Pepperell) is part of a group trying to get permission to erect a "Support our Troops" sign on town land in Pepperell.

Second Franklin House District
Earlier this week, David Roulston (D-Greenfield) became the latest candidate to criticize the proposed biomass plant in Greenfield.

Middlesex and Worcester Senate District
The communications director for Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) is taking time off during the fall recess to work for the campaign of Ninth District Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston).

Worcester County Sheriff
Lew Evangelidis (R-Holden) recently visited the Hampden County Sheriff to get some tips on programs for inmates.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Scot Bove on Tom Foley's disability and retirement

In the Telegram's daily ElectionNet report, Shaun Sutner looks further into the ramificaions of Tom Foley's disability retirement and it's role in the race for the Democratic nomination for Worcester County Sheriff. Yesterday, Foley spoke with Telegram columnist Dianne Williamson. Today, Sutner wrote:
So far, Foley's opponent for the Democratic nomination, Scot Bove, has not talked about it publicly, including at a sheriff's debate Thursday night in Harvard.

It might look petty or negative for Bove to bring up questions about whether Foley, the retired state police superintendent who gets a $112,000 tax-free pension because of a heart condition but says his doctors have cleared him to return to work.
Perhaps Bove (D-Holden) has decided to take a low profile on this issue as spring turned into summer, but in May, Bove had some pointed words for Foley in a Democratic candidates' debate I moderated for Sterling-Lancaster Community Television.

At the event, I asked Foley about the charges that he would be "double-dipping." The exchange devolved into the candidates levelling charges back and forth, with Bove questioning Foley's assertion that the job was purely administrative (and implying that Foley wasn't phsically up for it) and Foley accusing Bove or forcing correctional officers to contribute to his campaign.

Here is the entire exchange:

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday roundup: A new sheriff in town

The Telegram really brings it today with a bunch of stories on area politics in their Thursday edition, led by a look at last night's Sheriff's debate in Harvard:
Three candidates for Worcester County sheriff last night promised to kick politics out of the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction, while the fourth candidate, an assistant deputy superintendent at the facility in West Boylston said the jail has already been professionalized.

The emphasis at a sheriff candidates forum at the Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church was more on individual qualifications to run the Sheriff's Department than differences over issues. The forum was sponsored by the Worcester County Chapter of the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, with Ronal C. Madnick, director of the chapter, posing questions to the candidates.
Madnick (U-Worcester), you may remember, is a candidate for state rep. in the 13th Worcester district. His participation as a moderator in this debate has sparked some discussion of a conflict of interest.

The Telegram's lead columnist, Diane Williamson, also took a look at candidate Tom Foley. Specifically, she examines the questions surrounding his retirement from the State Police due to a heart problem and the effect that issue is having on the race:
When Foley retired at age 50, he filed for and was granted a disability pension due to a heart condition. Under state law, he receives a tax-free pension — $112,000 — equal to 72 percent of his salary. The sheriff’s salary is $123,000, although under law Foley would only be eligible for about $93,000.

His opponents raise valid questions. If someone is so disabled that he must retire from one public job, how can he take another one? Is he disabled, or isn’t he? Just this week, while endorsing [Scott] Bove, the Worcester County Superior Officers Union said Foley couldn’t meet the “basic requirements” for sheriff because of his health, as the sheriff must also be a correction officer.
Williamson concludes that Foley's health is less of an issue than a flawed pension "system that encourages excess and abuse."
Third Congressional District
Brian Herr (R-Hopkinton) says the appropriations bill that passed congress earlier this week was akin to a shakedown:
It's no surprise that Jim McGovern voted for this bill...during his political career he has received $1,176,725 in contributions from labor unions. This year alone, he has received $2,500 from the American Federation of Teacher, $2,500 from the National Association of Firefighters, and $2,000 from the National Education Association.

It looks like the vote for this bill was nothing more than a $26 billion political payback.
Robert Delle (R-Westboro/Wayland/Paxton) talks about his upcoming move to Paxton and his campaign for office. He also says he "considers President Obama a socialist and is so wary of government spending that he believes people are 'stealing' federal stimulus money, though he didn't say who."

In an op-ed for the MetroWest Daily News, Michael Stopa (R-Holliston) argues that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is crowding out private investment and hurting the economy.

Fifth Congressional District
The four candidates for the Republican nomination discussed their ambitions at a debate in Concord:
When it came time to ask questions to one another, the candidates touched on tort reform for the healthcare bill, cost of living increases and the first piece of legislation they would file if elected.

Repealing the healthcare bill would be first on Golnik’s list, while Weaver said he would like to establish and chair an anti-appropriations committee to look at the books and cut unnecessary expenses. Shapiro would start by slapping a dollar limit on the federal budget and keeping bills under 100 pages, and Meas said he would seek to become the Ways and Means chairman and simplify the tax code to stimulate the economy.
13th Worcester House District
Mike Perotto (D-Worcester) visited Worcester Community Cable Access's "What It's Worth" show.

Shaun Sutner of the Telegram checks in on the relationship between Joff Smith (D-Worcester) and Worcester Mag columnist and former city councilor Gary Rosen. Sutner also looks at the efforts of Paul Franco (R-Worcester) in Paxton.

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About three weeks ago, I began to repurpose my longtime blog No Drumlins away from a personal opinion site and into a site that reports on political news here in Central Massachusetts. In an effort to better separate the reporting from my opinion, I have decided to start a separate venture for the political roundups.

Beginning today, the updates will be posted first on my new site,

In an effort to ramp up coverage of the local races, I will be reaching out to the campaigns to let them know that in addition to the daily roundups, candidates should feel free to send me press releases, campaign video or audio, announcements of events, or other newsworthy items.

It is my hope that over the next few weeks, will become the first stop for information on candidates and races in Central Massachusetts.

To ease the transition, I will continue to cross-post updates on both and No Drumlins. Please update your bookmarks, rss feeds, or email addresses,using the following links: (or
RSS feed:

For more information about the me and the focus of, click here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday Roundup: Money is on its way

Topping the news today are the reports that Congress passed the jobs bill, meaning $655 million will be coming to Massachusetts. In the Telegram, John Monahan reports that the money will be used to fully fund Chapter 70 education aid and to restore funding to a number of social programs threatened in the FY2011 budget passed late last month. Third District Congressman James McGovern (D-Worcester) spoke in favor of the bill on the House floor:
“At a time when states like Massachusetts are starting to see unemployment rates decrease, now is not the time to pull the rug out from under them,” Mr. McGovern said. “If we were to fail our states and not enact this extension, 2,400 teaching, police and firefighter jobs in Massachusetts would be at risk.”
However, McGovern wasn't completely happy with the final bill. In order to make the $26 billion package deficit-neutral, the House offset some of the spending by including cuts to food stamp programs. According to The Hill, McGovern has pledged to restore the food stamp funds and find another way to offset the spending.

For his part, McGovern has been stimulating the local economy not with food stamps, but with food service. Shaun Sutner reports (second item) that McGovern has rolled up large tabs at a number of restaurants in the Third District. Among those listed in the report was a nearly $20,000 bill at a restaurant in Swansea.

Fifth Congressional District
The Lowell Sun gives Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) credit (or blame, if you prefer) for "push[ing] through an emergency $26 billion jobs bill." Tsongas outlined how the funding would help Massachusetts:
Tsongas explained that the Recovery Act included increased federal support to states to maintain the Medicaid program, due to the fact that as unemployment went up during the recession, more people were qualifying for the low-income health insurance program and states were facing a diminished tax base with which to meet that need.

"Those Medicaid funds are scheduled to run out at the end of this calendar year even though the economy is still on shaky ground and states have not started to see a significant increase in their revenues," Tsongas said.
In other news, Tsongas is also worried that plans to widen I-93 from Andover to New Hampshire may squash plans to build a new interchange that would service businesses in the area.

Tsongas is also touting the endorsement of Veterans and Military Families for Progress.

Sam Meas (R-Haverhill) continues to get national recognition for his compelling personal story, this time in a Richmond Times-Dispatch profile. Meas lived in Richmond for a time as a teenager.

In a column in the Billerica Townie News, Tom Weaver (R-Westford) outlines his plan to cut $596 billion from the federal budget.

Worcester and Middlesex Senate District
The jobs bill could have a trickle down effect on the state legislature. Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) told the Sentinel and Enterprise that she doubts the legislature will be called back into session to debate the appropriations coming from Congress. If the legislature did reconvene in a special seesion, it could also choose to reconsider the casino bill, which Flanagan believes is dead.

11th Worcester House District
Sutner looks at the race between the seventysomething Kevin Byrne (D-Shrewsbury) and the thirtysomething Matthew Beaton (R-Shrewsbury), and explains how Byrne will make the November ballot despite being left off the primary slate (third item).

Sutner also looks at the unconventional approach of Daniel Dubrule (R-Ashburnham), who is refusing to speak to area rod and gun clubs despite being "a gun owner and professed Second Amendment supporter."

Second Congressional District
Rep. Richard Neal gave a wide-ranging interview with WAMC Northeast Public Radio. The interview ran in three parts earlier this week. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Governor's Council
Fran Ford (D-Paxton) took a populist tone against the propsed closing of courthouses in Leominster and Westborough, anguing in a Telegram op-ed that "it is past the time when we in Central and Western Massachusetts need to tell Boston that 'enough is enough.'"

Finally, look for a major announcement about the future of this site tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Campaign odds and ends: Lights, camera, action!

While I try to keep up with the campaigns, stuff falls through the cracks or gets lost in the Internet. So I took a look around to see what I've been missing over the last week or so. Apparently I've been missing lots of local TV and radio appearances. So here is a roundup of stuff that hasn't been making the roundups...

Second Congressional District
Tom Wesley (R-Hopedale) spoke out about President Obama choosing to film The View instead of making a speech to the Boy Scouts. While the legislature just outlawed texting while driving, apparently videotaping web commercials while driving is still legal. Look out for that truck, Tom!

Second Franklin House District
Greenfield Community Television has posted brief video statements from the five candidates:
Steven Adam (R-Orange)
Denise Andrews (D-Orange)
Lee Chauvette (D-Athol)
David Roulston (D-Greenfield)
Roxanne Wedegartner (D-Greenfield)

First Congressional District
Greenfield Community Television also has a video statement from Bill Gunn (R-Belchertown).

Fifth Congressional District
The Groton Channel has also been hosting some candidates. Jon Golnik (R-Carlisle) made an appearance last week.

Eighth Worcester House District
Rep. George Peterson (R-Grafton) called in to the Jeff Katz Show on WXKS-AM to talk about the sales tax holiday and the end of the legislative session.

Sixth Worcester House District
Peter Durant (R-Spencer) visited with Jane Woodworth of WESO-AM radio. In his current role as Spencer Selectman, Durant and the other members of the board are considering fines for utility companies who do not clean up old utility poles.

12th Worcester House District
Treasurer Tim Cahill recognized Rep. Harold Naughton (D-Clinton) for his leadership in retroactively extending the Welcome Home Bonus for Vietnam Veterans to include veterans who served from 1973-1975.

Challenger James Gettens (R-Sterling) criticized Naughton for voting to streamline the approval of wind energy projects by bypassing local planning boards.

Worcester County Sheriff
Finally, Scot Bove (D-Holden) announced that he has received the endorsements of the Worcester County Superior Officers (Local 275) and the Worcester County Corrections Officers (Local 550).

Tuesday Roundup: Rock the boat (don't rock the boat, baby)

Let's start our Tuesday spin around the region with the Congressional race in the Fifth District, where Sam Meas (R-Haverhill) rocked John Kerry over the recent controversy surrounding Kerry's yacht:
In a press release issued last week, Meas said the "nautical and tax-dodging misadventures of our aristocratic Senior Senator, John F. Kerry, firmly solidify his reputation as being total out of touch with his constituents."

Kerry, of course, has come under heavy fire for registering his new, $7 million, 76-foot yacht "Isabel," in Rhode Island instead of his home state of Massachusetts, ostensibly to avoid paying taxes on the costly craft.

At its core, this story illustrates the need to scrap our oppressive, unjust and obscenely complex tax system and replace it with something simpler and more fair..."
Of course, Kerry has been accused of docking his boat in Rhode Island to avoid paying state--not federal --taxes, so should he be elected to Congress, Meas wouldn't have any standing to change the tax system he accuses Kerry of dodging.

Poweline followed up The Weekly Standard's profile of Meas with a note from a reader touting Jon Golnik (R-Carlisle) as the best challenger in the field.

Second Congressional District
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) traveled to Lee's Summit, Mo. to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Social Security at a series of town hall meetings with Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.

Third Congressional District
Robert Chipman (R-Plainville) wrote to the Attleboro Sun-Chronicle describing his side of a dispute over lawn signs in Plainville.

Michael Stopa (R-Holliston) and Brian Herr (R-Hopkinton) attended a Tea Party event in Northboro to hear arguments against granting citizenship to illegal immigrants.

Second Worcester House District
Three of the five candidates for the open seat--Rich Bastien (R-Gardner), Carolyn Kamuda (U-Gardner), and Amy Feeley-Knuuttila (D, Winchendon) were endorsed by Citizens for Limited Taxation.

13th Worcester House District
Sean Dacey at Unfashionable Sentiments takes stock of the number of lawn signs in his neighborhood.

Middlesex and Worcester Senate District
37th Middlesex House District
In a surprise to no one, the Young Democrats of Massachusetts endorsed Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). Previously, the YDMA announced their support for Rep. Jen Benson (D-Lunenburg).

Finally, thanks to Shaun Sutner of the Telegram, who had nice things to say about this blog in his online daily ElectionNet column on

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday roundup: "No record of doing anything well"

The most interesting developments this weekend were in the Fifth Congressional District, where candidate/minstrel Tom Weaver (R-Westford) attacked Rep Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) with a song. But there were other developments as well...

Third Congressional District
The Telegram profiled Robert Chipman (R-Plainville) this morning. According to the profile, the mortgage consultant is against the Affordable Care Act, against financial regulation, against the portion of the 14th amendment that guarantees citizenship to U.S.-born children, and against pretty much everything else congress has done in the past 221 years:
“Congress has no record of doing anything well,” he said in a recent interview.
One other note on the profile...reporter Priyanka Dayal wrote "After quietly disapproving of President Barack Obama for years, the always-active voter has also decided to speak up."  While conservatives like Chipman might feel like they've been fighting the President for years, he's only been president for 19 months. Still between 29 and 77 months to go...

Dayal also took a brief look at the race between Rep. James McGovern, Chipman, and the other four Republican contenders.

Second Franklin House District
Candidates continue to weigh in on the biomass plant proposed for Greenfield. Denise Andrews (D-Orange) has made public her comments to the Department of Energy Resources:
...large scale wood burning electrical generating plants, like the 47 megawatt plant proposed in Greenfield, are not good investments or direction for our communities.

There are two fundamental reasons for this conclusion, first, the scientific analysis and second, the desires and will of the people have been made clear. Scientific perspectives and data shared from the Manomet study team, area health care professionals, forestry professionals, and area researchers were consistent, compelling and conclusive. As for the will and desires of the people, Lennie Weeks, from Greenfield, shared beautifully at this forum that the people have spoken and that the will of the people must be respected and supported. The recent Greenfield Biomass vote (8:2 vote) was compelling and clear that the people do not believe the proposed biomass plant or current direction is best for their community.
In a press release (no link available), Lee Chauvette (D-Athol) called on the town of Greenfield and the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to conduct an enhanced review of the proposal:
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a strict policy entitled the Environmental Justice Policy which mandates enhanced public participation as well as enhanced review of such projects by the Executive Office for communities that fall under this particular program. Greenfield does in fact according to the policy website have a neighborhood that is an Environmental Justice Policy neighborhood....

The Environmental Justice Program is designed to give residents enhanced participation in projects that may cause harm to their neighborhoods...I urge local officials to review this issue.
Second Congressional District
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) is poised to introduce legislation requiring employers without a retirement plan to offer an IRA option.

Neal has also pledged to fight for federal funds to restore an historic house in Springfield.

Ninth Worcester House District
13th Worcester House District
Shaun Sutner of the Telegram looks at the explosion of candidates from Central Mass. Included are Timothy Dodd (D-Westboro) challenging George Peterson (R-Grafton) in the Ninth District and Paul Franco (R-Worcester) running for the open seat in the 13th District.

Challenger has a Tsong for Tsongas

Alright, this probably isn't the biggest story out there today, but it is destined to become a classic. Tom Weaver (R-Westford) has fired off this salvo against Fifth Congressional District Representative Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell):

"When will American's learn..." that politicians who can rewrite classic folk tunes and perform them are the next wave. I'm hoping that Tsongas comes back with a cover of a Joni Mitchell tune as a response.

Or maybe she'll just respond with a press release. That's what the National Republican Congressional Committee has done with Tsongas, attacking her for high unemployment. If you read the release closely, it's clear that it is a generic release and that the words "Niki Tsongas" "Tsongas" and "Massachusetts" can easily be swapped out for, say, "Carol Shea-Porter" "Porter" and "New Hampshire" or any number of other Democrats being targeted by the NRCC.

For her part, Tsongas is touting a $43 million loan guarantee for Beacon Power of Tyngsboro to build a "20 MW flywheel energy storage plant, now under construction in Stephentown, New York."

Earlier today, Jon Golnik (R-Carlisle) was a guest on the Callie Crossley Show on WGBH-FM radio.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Saturday roundup: McGovern keeps up the pressure on Afghanistan

Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester) continued his anti-war advocacy with a column in Friday's Telegram. The congressman explained his vote against the $33 billion war appropriations bill:
I voted in 2001 to go to war in Afghanistan — to hunt down al-Qaida and eliminate their threat. I would cast that same vote today — in a heartbeat. Al-Qaida remains a threat, and we must redouble our efforts to destroy them wherever they are — in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Somalia, and elsewhere around the world.

But what we are doing in Afghanistan today is far beyond that original authorization. We are engaged in extensive, expensive “nation-building” in a very complicated, dangerous part of the world.

And frankly, given the level of unemployment and the severe economic situation we face in the United States, I’d rather do a little more “nation-building” here at home.
Speaking to the Attleboro Sun-Chronicle, McGovern laid out his support for allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire on families making over $250,000. "I'm sorry, if Donald Trump doesn't get a tax break it's not the end of the world," he said.

Elsewhere in the Third Congressional District, Robert Delle (R-Westboro) is calling for a boycott of New York City over the planned mosque and Islamic Cutural Center a couple of blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. I can think of a dozen or more reasons to stay away from New York, but that wouldn't be one of them.

Fifth Congressional District
Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) gave a detailed explanation of her vote against the Afghanistan military authorization.
Sam Meas (R-Haverhill) gets his second national profile in a week, as The Weekly Standard checks in on the campaign. Meas characterizes Tsongas as "so convoluted, she’s so out of touch."

13th Worcester House District
Margot Barnet (D-Worcester) introduces herself to the community at Blue Mass Group. She also revvealed that she is a longtime BMG member with a paper trail.

Ronal Madnick (U-Worcester) will be hosting a debate next week between the four candidates for sheriff. Shaun Sutner of the Telegram wonders if having a candidate in one race moderate a debate in another is a "possible election-season conflict of interest."
Second Franklin House District
For what it's worth, Madnick won't be the first rep candidate this cycle to moderate a debate for another office. David Roulston (D-Greenfield) hosted a debate between the Northwestern District Attorney candidates earlier this week.
First Middlesex House District
In his role as a member of Ayer's Finance Committee, Jesse Reich (D-Ayer) defended the agenda of the upcoming meeting of finance committees across the region.
Sheila Harrington (R-Groton) announced some upcoming events. She will be hosting a night of billiards in Ayer later this week, and giving away ice cream in Dunstable and Groton next month.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thursday roundup: Looking for order in the courts

Wednesday brought the Court Relocation Committee to Worcester, where a hearing was held on proposals to close a handful of district courts, including facilities in Leominster and Westboro. Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) testified in opposition to the plan:
"We don't have the rail, we don't have the subway, we don't have the trolleys and we don't have the short cab rides," she said. "This is going to hit hard in the city of Leominster."
The Telegram noted that "dozens of people" testified against the proposal, including a number of elected representatives. Congressman James McGovern (D-Worcester) and Rep. George Peterson (R-Grafton) were among those testifying.
Third Congressional District
McGovern has been busy in the district the last couple of days. In addition to appearing with Rep. Harold Naughton (D-Clinton) in announcing a $250,000 grant to repair a road in Clinton, McGovern also announced a series of visits to local businesses, and checked out another road in need of repair in Holliston.

First Worcester Senate District
Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) explained her vote in favor of "racinos." Despite her claim last week that she would vote against any bill that included the slot machine facilities, Chandler voted in favor of the final bill, which included the possibility of two racinos. She said she believed that the licensing commission would refuse to issue slot licenses because the governor opposes them.
Second Worcester House District
Rich Bastien (R-Gardner) attended last weekend's rally with Congressional candidate Bill Gunn (R-Belchertown) and spoke with DaTechGuy.
Worcester County Sheriff
Shaun Sutner of the Telegram looks at the wardrobe choices of the candidates for Sheriff.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday roundup: Good day to spend in the hammock

Another sleepy August day came and went, with little election news to report around Central Mass. Here's what's new...

Worcester County Sheriff
Lew Evangelidis (R-Holden) spoke in support of James McKenna, a write-in candidate for Attorney General.

First Congressional District
Bill Gunn (R-Belchertown) appeared at a rally in Leominster. DaTechGuy has the video.

Ninth Worcester House District
Rep. George N. Peterson Jr. (R-Grafton) switched his vote on CORI reform from yes to no after a provision to allow for "dangerous hearings for defendants charged with felony firearm offenses" was added to the final bill.

Fifth Congressional District
Both Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) and challenger Jon Golnik (R-Carlisle) were profiled at Yes We Will Lawrence.

37th Middlesex House District
Sponsores of the bill to allow local communities to more easily set up their own local electrical utilities--including Rep. Jen Benson (D-Lunenburg) are lamenting the legislature's inablity to pass the legislation before the end of the session.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Weekend roundup: Senate stays on 15, dares Governor to take hit

As the State Legislature wound down the session Saturday, the big news was not that the House and Senate both passed the compromise Casino bill, but that the margin in the Senate was again 25-15, two votes shy of a veto-proof majority. So, if the Governor vetoes the bill as he has promised and if Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) calls a special session to consider the veto, gambling supporters need to get two opposing senators to switch their votes.

Locally, it appears that each of the representatives and senators up for reelection voted the same way they did when the issue came up earlier this session. Interestingly, that included Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) who voted for the three casino, two racino proposal despite her insistance last week that she would not vote for a bill that included slot parlors for racetracks. As of this evening, Chandler has not publicly discussed her change of heart.


Third Congressional District
Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester) was vocal in his support for the House bill that strengthens oversight of offshore dirlling. "If you want to apologize for Big Oil, go right ahead, but the American people are not on your side on this one," he said.

Martin Lamb (R-Holliston) unveiled an economic package of tax cuts, including "putting a six-month moratorium on payroll taxes such as Social Security." He could not tell the Attleboro Sun-Chronicle how he would pay for the tax cuts.

Lamb claims he is winning the Facebook primary. According to statistics provided by Lamb and published in the Telegram, Lamb has nearly triple the number of Facebook friends as Brian Herr (D-Hopkinton), his closest competition for the Republican nomination. That and $1.99 will get him a coffee an Dunks.

First Congressional District
The House of Representatives is apparently so upset with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan that it refused to fund his travel budget. While John Olver (D-Amherst) opposed the measure, he did so tepidly and did not block it from coming out of his committee.

Fifth Congressional District
Jon Golnik (R-Carlisle) has no use for the legal decision striking down parts of Arizona's immigration law.

Sam Meas (R-Haverhill)  took a spin on syndicated radio's The Roger Hedgecock show.

Second Congressional District
Barron's has dubbed the provision Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) has proposed to close tax loopholes for foreign insurance comanies "Hurricane Neal" for it's potential impact on the re-insurance industry.

Middlesex and Worcester Senate District
Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) was criticized by Glenn Beck, of all people, for his leadership on the bill to apportion Massachusetts's electoral votes based on the winner of the popular vote.

18th Worcester House District
Shaun Sutner of the Telegram suggests that Rep. Jennifer Callahan (D-Sutton) is operating under a double standard when it comes to lobbying and campaign finance issues.

11th Worcester House District
Matthew Beaton (R-Shrewsbury) was photographed on a golf course with President Geroge H. W. Bush and a Beaton for Representative bumper sticker. This earned a "President Bush throws support behind Beaton" headline from Daily Westborough.

Worcester County Sheriff
The Telegram looks at the four candidates for Sheriff.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday roundup: Tsongas tried to keep Schilling's company in Mass.?

Wednesday was slow with a capital "S", so in keeping with the media's tradition of headlining a Red Sox story when nothing else is going on, we start with former Red Sox hero and current businessman/blowhard Curt Schilling. In a discussion with WEEI Radio about Rhode Island's decision to offer Schilling's video game company 38 Studios a $75 million guarantee to move the business to the Ocean State, Schilling mentioned that he'd only received help from one Massachusetts politician:

Although Schilling “absolutely” wished Massachusetts had offered incentives to keep 38 Studios in the Bay State, only U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., made a significant effort to explore the possibility, he said.

“We made every effort to make that happen, and it was not going to happen,” he said. Officials in Massachusetts have said the state would never provide as large a guarantee as $75 million to a single company.
I'm not sure what pull Tsongas (D-Lowell) would have since the state would have made the decision, but Schilling's company is located in Maynard for the time being and Maynard is in her Fifth Congressional district, so perhaps she just saw it as good constituent relations.

In a completely unrelated item, challenger Jon Golnik (R-Carlisle) got the Lowell Sun to publish a story about his call for Tsongas to call for House Ways and Means Committee chairman Charlie Rangel to step down:
"Instead of supporting partisan friendships, Nancy Pelosi, Niki Tsongas and the rest of our elected officials in Washington need to stand up for what is right and demand for their colleague's resignation. People are cynical because once again, members of Congress are above the law," Golnik said in a statement....

"If his colleagues feel he is too unethical too keep his money, then he is too unethical to spend ours," Golnik said.
Tsongas probably has less pull with Rangel than she does with some state development authority, but at least Golnik got an article out of it.

Sam Meas (R-Haverhill) came out against the expiration of last decade's deficit-building tax cuts.


Middlesex and Worcester Senate District
Rep. Jamie Eldridge told the Lowell Sun that Schilling never asked him for any help. Maynard is part of the Middlesex and Worcester District.

Third Congressional District
Not only has Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester) been all over the news as a leader of the anti-war effort, he has also drafted a letter (along with Democratic Rep. Jan Schankowsky of Illinois) urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to call for investigations of war crimes in Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Roundup: McGovern continues anti-war crusade

Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester) continues to lead the anti-war effort in the wake of the leak of classified Pentagon documents relating to the war in Afghanistan. The congressman from the Third District explained his vote against yesterday's war appropriations bill to the New York Times:
“All of the puzzle has been put together and it is not a pretty picture; things are really ugly over there,” Representative James P. McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, said. “I think the White House continues to underestimate the depth of anti-war sentiment here.”
Locally, McGovern is sponsoring a poster contest. He'd like someone to create a poster for his campaign. "This contest will allow me to showcase some of the best artists in the 3rd Congressional District,” McGovern said. Apparently all of the best artists in the Third District are Democrats.

The Attleboro Sun-Chronicle reports on a couple of endorsements. Marty Lamb (R-Holliston) has picked up the support of former state GOP Chairman Jim Rappaport. Brian Herr (R-Hopkinton) picked up the endorsement of Robbi Blute, wife of former congressman and current WCRN radio host Peter Blute.

In other news...

Middlesex and Worcester Senate District
Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) supported the Senate bill to apportion all of the states electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. According to the Boston Globe, he said:
What we are submitting is the idea that the president should be selected by the majority of people in the United States of America...Every vote will be of the same weight across the country.
The bill now awaits Governor Patrick's signature.

Second Congressional District
Rep Richard Neal (D-Springfield) announced that the renovation of Springfield's Union Station can go forward as the federal government has lifted it's funding freeze.

The Springfield Reminder profiled challenger Tom Wesley (R-Hopedale).

Fifth Congressional District
The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune announced that it is sponsoring a debate between the four Republican candidates for Rep. Niki Tsongas's seat. The debate will be August 30 in Haverhill.

First Congressional District
Channlenger Bill Gunn (R-Belchertown) appeared in Leominster yesterday. The Sentinel and Enterprise reports that he jumped into the race because he was upset about the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Worcester County Sheriff
All four candidates appeared in Leominster Monday night at a forum sponsored by the Twin City Tea Party. DaTechGuy has the video of each candidate's presentation.

11th Worcester House District sat down for an interview with new candidate Kevin Byrne (D-Shrewsbury).

Second Franklin House District
In yesterday's post, I noted that Lee Chauvette (D-Athol) issued a statement opposing a biomass plant being developed in Greenfield. I wrote: "The developers of the plant, Co-op Power, defended their proposed plant (they call it biodiesel, not biomass) in a post at Blue Mass. Group." I received an email from the Chauvette campaign explaining that his opposition is to "a 'biomass' plant being proposed in Greenfield by Madera Power under the name of Pioneer Power," not the biodiesel plant being developed by Co-op Power. I regret the error.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Roundup: McGuane out of Second Franklin race, Chauvette opposes "biomass plant"

Lots of news coming out of the Second Franklin District today. The most important (and most inevitable) of which is the news that Martin McGuane (D-Greenfield) who pled to a DUI charge last week has pulled out of the race. Michael Henry of Montague Matters read between the lines of the former candidate's announcement:
In a simple press statement, e-mailed Thursday at 7:31 p.m., the 53-year-old candidate was quoted as saying, ‘Due to health issues and personal reasons, I am withdrawing from the race, effective immediately.’

...He might have done a good job if his “health issues” (read: alcoholism) and his personal reasons (read: piss-poor liar) didn’t force him to withdraw.
McGuane is the second candidate to withdraw from the contest this month. Genieveve Fraser (U-Orange) announced on July 7 that she was pulling out because she had "developed photosensitivity and must avoid direct sunlight." In her announcement, Fraser endorsed Roxanne Wedegartner (D-Greenfield).

In policy news, Lee Chauvette (D-Athol) is opposing the construction of what he calls a "biomass plant" in Greenfield. In a strongly worded statement, he wrote:
“People aren’t just worried about the quality of the air, or the 'eyesore'--such as the stack height of such a project; they’re concerned about their health and the health of their kids and community. These concerns have been voiced to me frequently, and not from just Greenfield residents, but residents from Gill, Erving and even Montague and beyond. It’s not enough to say the issue of Biomass in Greenfield is a 'Greenfield' issue, especially when as a candidate to represent the entire District I have an incumbent responsibility to protect the interests of all citizens.”*
In other election news...

Third Congressional District
Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester) has been making the media rounds in response to the leaking of classified documents related to the war in Afghanistan. He told Chris Matthews on MSNBC:
"...The documents that were released paint a very grim picture and our men and women who are fighting the battle are doing an incredible job,” said Mr. McGovern. “It’s clear they have no reliable partners. They can’t trust the government of Afghanistan because Karzai is corrupt. They can’t trust the Afghan police or the Afghan military because they’re corrupt. Now we have news that the Pakistani intelligence are working to undercut the American men and women we’re putting in harm’s way. This is an outrage.”
Second Congressional District
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) continues to come under fire from European governments and the reinsurance industry for his proposal to do away with tax deductions for reinsurers based overseas.

Challenger Tom Wesley (R-Hopedale) has posted a new web ad criticizing Neal for...just about everything.

* -- Update 9:40 pm: In the original version of this post, I noted that "The developers of the plant, Co-op Power, defended their proposed plant (they call it biodiesel, not biomass) in a post at Blue Mass. Group." I received an email from the Chauvette campaign explaining that his opposition is to "a 'biomass' plant being proposed in Greenfield by Madera Power under the name of Pioneer Power." I regret the error.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Lazy days of summer

As one would expect after a lazy summer weekend, there were no big stories to break over the last couple of days. But there were a couple of things of note, here they are...

Sixth Worcester House District
Rep. Geraldo Alicea (D-Charlton) reports that progress is being made in the quest to bring a Registry of Motor Vehicles office back to Southbridge.

Challenger Peter Durant (R-Spencer) has called on Alicea to file Durant's bill to prohibit the state from breaking a lease similar to the former RMV lease in Sturbridge. The press release is a proof-readers nightmare. One hopes the bill is better written than the release.

11th Worcester House District
Kevin Byrne (D-Shrewsbury) announced recently that he plans to run for the Democratic nomination to replace Rep. Karyn Polito (R-Shrewsbury). Denis Leary (D-Shrewsbury) had been the only Democratic candidate to qualify for the ballot, but he recently pulled out due to health issues.

12th Worcester House District
Rep. Harold Naughton received the endorsement of The Gun Action Owners League of Massachusetts.

Challenger James Gettens (R-Sterling) was endorsed by Citizens for Limited Taxation.

37th Middlesex House District
Rep. Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) voted in favor of the sales-tax holiday. Her anti-tax opponent, Kurt Hayes (R-Boxborough), criticized her even though she voted the way he would have.

18th Worcester House District
Selectman Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) has been under fire for literature claiming he won an award that he did not win. He is challenging Rep. Jennifer Callahan (D-Sutton).

13th Worcester District
City Councillor Joffrey Smith (D-Worcester) is balking at Worcester's newly proposed valet parking ordinance.

Second Franklin House District
Lee Chauvette (D-Athol) has been endorsed by the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts.

First Congressional District
Bill Gunn (R-Belchertown) brings his campaign to Leominster for a candidate forum Tuesday night at 7:00.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sterling's response to water emergency not sterling

On Tuesday, routine testing of Sterling's water supply found traces of e.Coli bacteria. When the results were returned on Wednesday, the town issued a boil water order for all residents and businesses that use the town water supply. We are still required to boil our water until at least Tuesday. Unfortunately, word got out in dribs and drabs, and many (if not most) residents didn't get the word until sometime on Thursday, long after the order went out.

The lack of timely information and the spread of misinformation suggests that the town's leaders were not prepared to communicate this sort of emergency to townspeople, and some citizens have begun to wonder if the lack of information has compromised the safety of their families.

According to the date stamp on the official boil water notice posted to, the PDF file was created at 6:48 pm on Wednesday, July 21. We found out about it thanks to a Facebook post from one of our neighbors sometime after 9:30 pm. It looks like we were some of the lucky ones, although our children had drinks, brushed their teeth, and washed up after the boil water order was issued.

Information began to circulate on Thursday. The Telegram and Gazette ran a short item Thursday morning. Incredibly, the item did not give out a local phone number or Web site for residents to get further information. Instead, the phone number it included where people could call to get information was an 800 number for the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

By Thursday morning, electronic tote boards on Main Street and Worcester Road had been erected to tell motorists about the order. Those signs did include a local phone number. Other media also helped get the word out, as local television stations had picked up the story by midday and were including the information in their news reports.

Finally, late Tuesday afternoon -- nearly a full 24 hours after the boil water order went into effect -- we received the reverse-911 call informing us of the water emergency.

Think about that for a minute. It took an entire day to get the phones hooked up and get a broadcast message to the town. 235 years ago, the people of Lexington found out the British were coming in a quarter of the time it took the people of Sterling to find out their water wasn't safe to drink. Perhaps we should hire out an equestrian squad and have them gallop through the countryside in the tradition of Paul Revere. Bet it wouldn't have taken 24 hours to get the word out...

Not that the communication has been much better since then. After updating the Web site on Thursday evening, the town did not post another update until yesterday afternoon. There has not been an update for 27 hours (as of this writing) and it does not appear that there will be any more information for almost 24 hours to come:
As of Saturday, July 24th at 3PM, the boil water order continues to be in effect for all users of the Sterling Water Department System. Preliminary results show no E-coli but some coliform in the system. The water department has been disinfecting the entire water system and will take another round of sampling on Monday, July 26th per DEP directive. Please be informed that it takes 24 hours to receive results of the samples collected.
It would be nice to get a daily fact, I think it is necessary, even if the update is little more than a message stating that nothing has changed. Beyond that, the notice needs to be clear and precise. Reading that closely, it's clear that the earliest the boil water order can be rescinded is Tuesday, July 26 (24 hours after the next round of testing on the 25th). Well, just say it.

Because of the lack of information, people are starting to blame the town for whatever is going wrong with their pets, children, etc. On Friday, I heard a group of parents talking about kids they knew who had been sick that week and they were sure it was the water. I've talked to people who have a sick dog and they figure that is because of the water. Another friend of ours has a 3-year-old with a stomach bug, and she thinks it's because she didn't get the notice until Thursday night and her family was drinking tap water all day.

Maybe they are right. I'm skeptical that every stomach bug and distempered pet is the result of water contamination. Frankly, I'm skeptical that any of it is from the water. But people don't believe they had the information they needed -- and deserved -- to keep their families safe.

The feeling of distrust is a burden that the town departments and leaders will deal with for some time to come.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Roundup: GOP Money Trouble

The big story today is courtesy of the Associated Press, which reports that despite a supposed anti-incumbent wave this fall, GOP challengers for Congress are trailing badly in the fundraising race. The chart from the Telegram shows the details:

(Just a note to the Telegram...while Democrats in Sterling would love to be in the Third District with Rep. Jim McGovern as depicted in the map, we're actually in Rep. John Olver's First District.)

Third Congressional District
Speaking of McGovern (D-Worcester), Worcester Magazine has a long look at the race in the Third District. It is the first time McGovern has faced an opponent in four years.

One of his potential Republican challengers, Martin Lamb (R-Holliston) is under fire for his voting record. The Telegram reports that Lamb first registered as a Republican in 2009 and voted as a Democrat in every state and federal election between 2000 and 2006. The news drew a strong reaction from challenger Brian Herr (R-Hopkinton). Previously, Lamb unveiled his "lamb chop plan" (seriously? lamb chop plan?) to save the country to the Milford Daily News.

For his part, Herr told the MetroWest Daily News that he hopes to avoid the "nasty, unproductive banter" of Capitol Hill if he is elected.

Robert Delle (R-Westborough) tells the MetroWest Daily News that "Barack Obama is a Marxist." He claims to know this because he was a "bonafide socialist" while in college.

Michael Stopa (R-Holliston) told the Holliston TAB that he decided to run because it was "a travesty" that McGovern was unopposed last cycle. Now he appears to be the moderate Republican in the crowded primary field.

Second Congressional District
Jay Fleitman (R-Northampton) came out strongly against the Wall Street Reform Act that President Obama signed last week.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) confirmed that he is running for Ways and Means chairman. Neal also spoke to ABC News about extending unemployment benefits and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for people making over $250,000 per year.

Fifth Congressional District
A Wayland attorney is accusing town officials of violating the state's Open Meeting Law by not posting a meeting last November with Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell).

Speaking of openness, the Boston Globe suggests Tsongas could make it easier for constituents to find information about her earmarks.

Challengers Sam Meas (R-Haverhill) and Jon Golnik (R-Carlisle) both told the Lowell Sun that they would have voted against Wall Street reform. They were joined by candidates Robert Shapiro (R-Andover) and Thomas Weaver (R-Westford) in opposition to the extension of unemployment benefits. Tsongas voted for both bills.

Golnik told the Boston Herald that he opposes the road signs informing motorists of projects paid for by the stimulus bill.

WBUR profiled Meas, a Cambodian American who survived the Khmer Rouge as a child and came to the United States as an orphaned teen. The Lowell Sun says Meas is counting on strong support from Lowell's Cambodian community.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Daily Roundup: McGuane pleads to DUI charge, Richard Neal in Bermuda Triangle

Today's top story again comes from the Second Franklin House District, where candidate Martin A. McGuane (D-Greenfield) has pled to the DUI charges stemming from his arrest over the weekend. From the Springfield Republican:
GREENFIELD - Martin A. McGuane, a candidate for the 2nd Franklin seat in the state House of Representatives, is losing his driver's license for 45 days and must take an alcohol education program after pleading to facts sufficient for a finding of guilty following his arrest early Saturday on alcohol charges.

The case Wednesday was continued without a finding for one year in District Court....

When asked about his political future, McGuane said Wednesday he would release a statement this week.
In other CMass election news today...
The big news out of Bermuda is that Congressman Richard Neal (D-Springfield) is coming under fire from Germany's ambassador over his bill to "remove the tax-deductibility of reinsurance premiums paid to a foreign affiliate if the amount exceeds the industry average for third-party reinsurance." Back on Capitol Hill, the representative from the Second District is agressively trying to build support to be named the next Ways and Means Committee Chairman. Bloomberg reports that Neal has donated over $400,000 to the campaigns of fellow Democrats just in the last five months.

Tom Wesley (R-Hopedale), running against Neal, appeared last Friday with Jay Severin. The video of his appearance on the radio show is here.

First Congressional District Rep. John Olver (D-Amherst), blocked a $350 million appropriation for the proposed Transforming Rental Assisstance program from coming out of his House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee. He told The Hill the proposal should be subject to a full debate and not added to an appropriations bill.

Rep. Paul Kujowski (D-Webster), running for re-election in the Eighth Worcester District, explained his vote to allow developers of wind energy projects to circumvent local planning boards. Rep. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) discussed why the proposal was bad for voters in her Fifth Worcester District.
All four candidates for Worcester County Sheriff are scheduled to attend a Twin City Tea Party candidate forum Monday night in Leominster.
The announcement that Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall is retiring this fall should give a boost to the race between Jennie Caissie (R-Oxford) and Fran Ford (D-Paxton) for Governor's Council. While the council will ratify or reject her replacement before this fall's election, the high-profile appointment should help citizens better understand the role of councilors.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CMass Senate Roundup...Rolling the dice on casinos

Catching up on the last few weeks of the State Senate campaigns...

First Worcester
Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) said Monday that she will oppose any compromise on the casino bill that includes slot machines at race tracks. The orignal Senate vote was 25-15 in favor, so if racinos are included opponents will only need to switch four more votes. In last week's Worcester Magazine, Chandler also said she was concerned that a House provision protecting local theatre venues might be dropped, though it was not clear if she would also change her vote if that provision were not included.

Chandler was endorsed by MassEquality.

William Higgins (R-Northborough) was endorsed by the Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Worcester and Middlesex
Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) told the Telegram & Gazette that race track slots were not a deal breaker for her. She was backed up by Democratic Fitchburg mayor Lisa Wong, who argued in the Sentinel and Enterprise that restaurants and businesses in Fitchburg should be allowed to add slot machines in the future if racinos are approved.

Three weeks ago, Flanagan broke with most of her Democratic colleagues and attended a meeting of the Twin City Tea Party. Conservative blogger DaTechguy was there to take video of Flanagan and opponent Neal Heeren (R-Bolton) and came away impressed by the Democrat:
Without a question Heeren was a weaker speaker, he had to refer to his notes quite a bit on opening and seemed very uncomfortable on stage, rather odd for a lawyer. On the issues he was more correct but you have to be able to make the case to people. That’s a skill he can develop but if Flanagan keeps showing up and manages to make credible explanation and presentations it will be harder for him.

This more than anything illustrates why Flanagan’s presence was smart! Rather than avoiding the Tea Party in fear she confronts it directly.
Heeren was scheduled to attend the Greater Gardner Tea Party event earlier this evening.

Finally, some guy named Kevin Lynch has been mounting an independent campaign almost solely via the Sentinel and Enterprise comment boards. Perhaps someone will tell him that as an independent, he still has time to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin
Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) voted against the Senate's casino bill. The Springfield Republican called it a "politically difficult vote" because the Ways and Means Vice Chariman voted against Speaker Murray. Brewer explained his "no" vote to the Journal Register:
“The numbers just do not add up and cities and towns will end up picking up these extra costs,” said Brewer. As an example of how far short this number falls, Brewer said, at one point, the town of Palmer handed him a request for $50 million in mitigation costs.

“I am concerned that without first conducting a cost benefit analysis, as I advocated for, we may be getting ourselves into a situation that we did not intend,” Brewer said.
After eight years of trying, the Senate has finally passed Brewer's bill allowing police to arrest drivers involved in fatal or injury-causing accidents at the scene. Currently police can only arrest a driver at the scene of an accident if the suspect is under the influence.

Brewer also donned a 19th-century costume and delivered the Declaration of Independence at ceremonies July 4 at Old Sturbridge Village (at right).

Daniel Dubrule (R-Ashburnham) was scheduled to appear at the aforementioned Greater Gardner Tea Party this evening.

Middlesex and Worcester
Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) led the unsuccessful fight against casinos in the Senate. While he ultimately voted against the bill, he was successful in amending the bill to prohibit smoking in casinos. However, he was unable to convince senators that towns surrounding a proposed casino site should have veto power over the project. His amendmet to ban ATMs from casinos was also defeated.

Eldridge picked up the endorsement of MassEquality.

Selectman George Thompson (R-Westboro) spoke late last month at a forum sponsored by the Ayer Republican Town Committee. The forum appears to have made more news for who was not invited than what was said.


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