Monthly Archives: November 2010

Tribute to Lida Harkins

Tribute to Lida Harkins 12/13 5-8 PM @ Needham Historical Society – all invited – see invite at http://ping.fm/mSK0f

Lyme disease – 1/25 at 7 PM

Lyme disease solutions – expert biologist from the MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife to address issue January 25 at 7 pm at Town House

Weekly Political Report – Week Ending November 24, 2010

Week Ending November 24, 2010

Following the release of the Ware report, detailing systemic abuse and
corruption within the Massachusetts Probation Department, Speaker Robert
DeLeo (D-Winthrop) vowed this week to overhaul the department. DeLeo
also announced that Speaker Pro Tempore Tom Petrolati (D-Ludlow), who
had been implicated as engaging in legislative quid pro quo, would not
seek reappointment to his legislative leadership position. When DeLeo
became speaker in 2009, he retained Rep. Petrolati as Speaker Pro Tem,
the same position Petrolati had held under former Speaker Sal DiMasi.
Although Governor Patrick’s attempt to place the probation department
under control of the Governor’s office failed in the House earlier this
session, Speaker DeLeo said that probation reform would be his top
priority.

On Monday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved a
plan for National Grid to buy half of the expected energy output
generated by the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind facility. DPU
officials acknowledged that residential customers could see their
electric bills increase by 1.3-1.7% while commercial and industrial
customers could see a 1.7-2.2% increase. Energy and Environmental
Secretary Ian Bowles said the benefits outweigh the costs of the project
and will allow Massachusetts to meet renewable energy and greenhouse gas
emissions reduction requirements. The DPU did not approve the second
National Grid contract with Cape Wind to purchase the remaining output,
saying that approving the contract now “would serve no clear purpose.”
On a related note, US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this week announced
a Smart from the Start initiative which would allow the federal
government to identify priority wind areas for potential development and
accelerate the lease process.

John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
BSA/AIA MA Public Policy Director
jnunnari@architects.org <mailto:afienman@architects.org>
617-951-1433 x263
617-951-0845 (fax)

Boston Society of Architects/AIA
The Architects Building
52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301
http://www.architects.org <http://www.architects.org/&gt;

VOC’s found at Medfield State Hospital

DCAM has told the Board of Selectmen that VOC’s were found at Medfield State Hospital.   This will mean the site will become a Tier 1 remediation site.  Clorinated materials were found in new monitoring wells drilled in the area of the former power plant, wells that had long been called for by my wife, ConCom member, Deb Bero, out of fears for what may have been used within the power plant.

The finding will delay the clean up – DCAM has already requested a 60 day extension for filing its Phase II and III documentation.

Board of Selectmen missed a big opportunity

The Board of Selectmen meeting last Tuesday started the FY12 budget planning process for the town, with in attendance all town department heads, the School Committee, and the Assessors.  Excellent presentations of the current lay of the land were made by both Mike Sullivan and Warrant Committee co-chair Mary Alice Whelan.

Upon reflection, what was missed was for the Board of Selectmen to engage the town government’s brain trust on what the town’s general goals should be for this budget season.  There were a lot of smart experienced people in the room, and only two were actually heard.  That was a huge missed opportunity.  The Town of Medfield is facing an uncertain budget year, mainly because the predictions are that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ local aid monies will have to fall by 5-10% if the state is to bridge its $2.2b. budget gap (it was made almost $200m. worse when we repealed the sales tax on alcoholic beverages).  In real numbers for Medfield those predicted cuts in state aid would mean $350,000 to $700,000 less in the town’s budget.  A large portion of the town budget is salaries, and you can do the math to figure out how many jobs it would take to make that up.

Given this situation, there should have been a discussion of what the town government leaders wanted to do to solve that dilemma and an airing of peoples’ thoughts.  Should we craft two budgets, one with and one without an override, and put it to the voters at town meeting?  Is it fair to plan on no pay increases for employees for a second year in a row?

Weekly Political Report Week – Ending November 19, 2010

Week Ending November 19, 2010

 

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unsealed a report compiled by prosecutor and independent counsel Paul Ware this week.  The report found systemic abuse and corruption within the Massachusetts Probation Department. Chief Justice Margaret Marshall and Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert Mulligan tasked Ware with investigating allegations about hiring practices within the probation department after initial reports of patronage surfaced in May. When the allegations arose, Commissioner John O’Brien was placed on immediate administrative leave. The unsealed report alleges Probation Commissioner O’Brien and four of his deputies favored candidates with political connections and engaged in legislative quid pro quo in making hiring decisions and promotions. The report was referred to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office and US Attorney Carmen Oritz for potential criminal investigations.

 

According to a Patrick administration jobs report, Massachusetts gained 10,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate in the state fell from 8.4% to 8.1%. The unemployment rate is now the lowest it has been in Massachusetts in the last 18 months and the decline from the last two months is the steepest since 1976. Coming on the heels of two consecutive months of job losses (21,000 in September and 3,000 in August), Governor Patrick said that the recent job creation is a sign that Massachusetts is emerging from the recession faster than other states. However, economists at the New England Economic Partnership (NEEP) this week forecasted that economic and job growth in Massachusetts will continue to fall through the end of the year and not climb upward until early 2011. NEEP Director Alan Clayton Matthews said the state’s economic growth is expected to slow to 3.7% in the third quarter and 3% through March 2011. Following that, NEEP projected that unemployment will fall to 7.3% by 2012 and below 6% by 2013.

 

On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue released the tax collection figures for the first half of November.  The state collected $540 million during this period, a $21 million drop from the same period one year earlier. Navjeet Bal, the state revenue commissioner attributed the decrease in income, sales and corporate tax collections to the two week period measured. She estimated that over the course of the full month Massachusetts will collect $1.327 billion in taxes, which would be an increase of $38 million from November, 2009.

 

Released this week, a new report by the Department of Transportation estimates that the 2009 transportation reform law saved Massachusetts $130 million. According to the report, titled “Transportation Reform – Year 1,” the state saved $38 million by restructuring highway debt and $5 million annually by moving MBTA employees to the state’s health insurance plan. The restructuring of the state’s transportation bureaucracy as laid out in the 2009 transportation reform act was one of the signature accomplishments of Governor Patrick’s first term.  Under the reform plan, the former MTA was dissolved and all transportation agencies were consolidated under a new agency, MassDOT, to oversee state transportation functions.

 

The Warren Group, which monitors home sales in the state, said initiated and completed home foreclosures in October were down 39% over the year, a 50% drop compared to October 2009. This is the first month since the beginning of the year that the number of foreclosure petitions (1,127) is below 2,000.  Tim Warren, CEO of the Warren Group called the large decline in completed foreclosures encouraging, although he warned that Bank of America’s decision to temporarily suspend foreclosure activity may have affected the reported numbers.

 

 

 

John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
BSA/AIA MA Public Policy Director
jnunnari@architects.org
617-951-1433 x263
617-951-0845 (fax)

Boston Society of Architects/AIA
The Architects Building
52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301
www.architects.org

 

 

Cemetery website and newsletter are well worth getting

Everyone should sign up to get Rob Gregg’s e-newsletter for the Vine Lake Preservation Trust – it is really well done and always way more interesting than I expect cemetery matters to be.  The cemetery is one of the happening place in Medfield at the moment.  Sign up at http://www.vinelakepreservationtrust.org