Monthly Archives: June 2011

Cushman House – 65 North Street

On June 8, 2011 I attended the Medfield Historic Commission meeting to discuss with its members and the Montrose School’s Business Manager, Jack Flaherty, the current status of and prospects for the Cushman House, which is located at 65 North Street.  The property, the site of the former bike shop, is owned by Montrose, but is currently vacant and its use is not within their plans.

The Historic Commission wanted to see if they could do anything to assist in seeing that the building could be saved, given its deteriorating condition and its historic significance to the town.  I am told that the house dates from about 1850.

On June 22 I toured the house with members of the Historic Commission, and learned that while appearing delapidated, there does not appear to be any great evidence of water intrusion and rot for the most part.  The agreed consensus was that the building was historically interesting and in structurally good shape.

The dilemma is how to rehabilitate the building so that it can be used, given that Montrose does not want to spend anything on the house, because it is not within its current plans or mission.  I asked Jack if Montrose would give the house away if someone were to move it, and while he made it clear that he was not able to commit the Montrose board, he did seem interested and did not rule it out as a possibility.  Moving the house could be a financial possibility for the Town of Medfield, where the utilities did not charge the town for the large services required when the Lowell Mason House  was moved.

Another alternative that occurs to this writer is for Montrose to long term lease the house to someone who willing to rehab it – if the Montrose rent was low enough and the term long enough, then the financial incentive would exist to spend the monies to do the rehabbing.

It does not serve the Town of Medfield well to have a house in such a prominent location on one of its main streets standing unused and in such a decrepit condition.

ZipTrip Thoughts

Fox News took over the park behind the gazebo last Friday for four hours, and entertained thousands from Medfield by doing so.  There appeared to be plenty of on-site activity by residents when I was there before 7 AM, and judging from the comments I have heard, it was of great interest to many more.

From what I saw when I was there, the Fox crew deserves kudos for a well planned and well oiled roll out of the Medfield iteration of their regular Friday feature.  It certainly hit upon and captured much of what most seem to think makes Medfield so special.  Nice to see Medfield getting some wider exposure.

Lyme disease – Walpole says no thanks

I reached out to through a former Walpole selectman to ask if Walpole would join with Medfield in culling deer to reduce Lyme disease.  The selectman had the Walpole’s Board of Health agent call me, and she said that their Board of Health got an invitation from the Dover Board of Health to join a regional effort to cull deer so as to reduce Lyme disease,  but then read the early May article in the Boston Globe magazine which said there is no scientific relationship between the number of deer and the amount of Lyme disease, and decided to not proceed.  She offered to take her Board of Health new information if any was presented.  I passed this information along to the Medfield Lyme disease study committee chair.

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/articles/2011/05/08/why_new_hunting_programs_arent_going_to_check_the_spread_of_lyme_disease/?s_campaign=8315

Weekly Political Report – week ending June 24, 2011

FY2012 Budget Still Not Finished, Governor to File Interim Budget

With less than a week before the new fiscal year begins, the six-member conference committee that is tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the FY2012 $30.5 billion state budget still have not reached an agreement. Although the Senate held a Friday session in the event that an agreement was reached and filed with the Legislature by Thursday night, the House on Thursday adjourned for the week, precluding any chance of the Legislature passing a budget before the weekend. Under the Massachusetts Constitution, the Governor is granted 10 days to review a bill after the Legislature passes a bill and sends it to him for consideration. Although details of the negotiations have not been made public, the House and Senate budgets differed significantly on issues such as municipal health care reform, pharmaceutical gift ban repeal, the use of electro-shock therapy on disabled children and illegal immigration.  Larger issues are also being debated such as adding money to the rainy day fund and whether to include an automatic rollback of the state’s income tax.

 

While the budget conference committee continues its deliberations, Governor Patrick intends to file a temporary $1.25 billion 10-day budget. According to Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzales, the interim budget will be filed today in order to avoid payment disruptions after July 1st assuming a full year budget is not in place.

 

Governor Patrick Signs Storm Relief Bill

On Tuesday, Governor Patrick signed a $54 million tornado relief bill. The bill allocates $15 million to pay for emergency response, cleanup, shelter expenditures and other assistance related to the tornadoes. It also allows Western Massachusetts municipalities to execute short-term borrowing for emergencies without legislative approval and enables cities and towns to assess FY2012 property taxes based on the damaged conditions of properties.

 

Massachusetts Unemployment Rates Up in Parts of State, Down in Others

The unadjusted unemployment figures for labor markets across the state were released this week. The data showed that the unemployment rate increased in eight areas, decreased in another eight, and were unchanged in the remaining six labor markets. The new statistics show that the jobless rate was up geographic areas including Boston, Cambridge and Quincy. Lawrence-Methuen-Salem and Fall River had the highest unemployment rates in the state, at 11.4%.

 

Tax Collection Figures For First Half of June Up 9.3%

This week the Massachusetts Department of Revenue released the tax collection figures for the first 17 days of June. Tax revenues for this period were $54 million above state budget benchmarks. The state collected $1.2 billion in taxes during the month, a 9.3% increase compared to the same period in June 2010. According to Navjeet Bal, the state revenue commissioner, the gains were due to estimated payments that residents paid with their income tax returns and increased sales tax revenue.

 

 

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

MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
The Architects Building
52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301
www.architects.org

 

Weekly Political Report – Week Ending June 17, 2011

Week Ending June 17, 2011 Former House Speaker DiMasi Convicted On Wednesday, a jury convicted former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi of using his office to rig software contracts in exchange for kickbacks. DiMasi, who was Speaker of the Massachusetts House from 2004 to 2009, was convicted on seven counts, including conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion. The trial lasted six weeks and featured testimony from Governor Deval Patrick, current and former Massachusetts State Representatives and former House staffers. On Thursday, Judge Mark Wolf scheduled DiMasi’s sentencing hearing for September 8th. House and Senate Pass Storm Relief Bills This week the House and Senate passed a supplemental budget aimed at providing funding for relief from the June 1st tornadoes that hit Western Massachusetts. Both bills would allocate $15 million to pay for emergency response, cleanup, shelter expenditures and other assistance related to the tornadoes. In keeping with the version filed last week by Governor Patrick, both bills would allow Western Massachusetts municipalities to execute short-term borrowing for emergencies without legislative approval and enable cities and towns to assess FY2012 property taxes based on the damaged conditions of properties. The different versions will have to be reconciled before going to the Governor for his signature. Last Saturday the Governor filed a request with FEMA for a Presidential declaration of an emergency in parts of Western Massachusetts. Indication of Potential Gambling Compromise Last week House Speaker DeLeo (D – Winthrop) signaled that he hoped to pass an expanded gambling bill before the end of July. On Monday, after meeting with Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray (D – Plymouth), the Governor indicated his flexibility on the issue and referred to a potential compromise of three destination resort casinos and one competitively bid slot parlor license that he could support. Although the House and Senate and the Governor were generally in agreement about authorizing casinos in the state before the end of last session, the issue of whether slot machines should be allowed at the state racetracks ultimately derailed the bill’s final passage. Pension Reform Could Be Taken Up Before August Recess At the end of January, Governor Patrick filed legislation to increase the minimum retirement age for state workers from 55 to 60. His legislation would also require state employees to work until 67 in order to receive their maximum pension benefit. According to Governor Patrick, he received assurances from Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray this week that his pension bill could be brought to the floor during the summer. Massachusetts’ current retirement system supports 56,000 retirees and has 86,000 actively contributing employees. Massachusetts Unemployment Falls .2% in May Unemployment in the state was down .2% in May to 7.6%, according to a Patrick Administration jobs report. Although Massachusetts lost 4,000 jobs last month, the unemployment rate has stayed below 8% for the last two months, the first time it has done so since 2009. The highest job gains in the state this month were in professional services, construction and manufacturing industries. John Nunnari, Assoc AIA Executive Director, AIA MA jnunnari@architects.org 617-951-1433 x263 617-951-0845 (fax) MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects The Architects Building 52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301 http://www.architects.org

Mr. Borelli’s proposed indoor sports facility sited on town’s Ice House Rd land to be presented to Board of Selectmen meeting tomorrow night

Fox 25 News Zip Trip on 6/24

On 6/24 Fox 25 News will be broadcasting from the Gazebo, doing its Zip Trip. They have asked me to join them at 6:50 AM – yawn – awfully early.

Weekly Political Report – Week Ending June 10, 2011

Week Ending June 10, 2011

 

Government Reform Passes Unanimously in the Senate

On Thursday, the Senate passed SB 1900, Senate President Therese Murray’s (D-Plymouth) omnibus government reform bill. SB 1900 would establish a performance management system by requiring the Executive Branch to curb personnel costs and requiring each new governor to file a zero-based budget during the initial stage of his or her administration. The bill would also implement sunset provisions for agencies and authorities, expand electronic reporting by state agencies, require reports on cash intake and outlays and identify discrepancies between estimates and actual receipt and spending levels. Under SB1900, the state’s debt limit would be increased to $1.7 billion at the start of the next fiscal year and local aid to cities and towns would be paid in monthly allotments, as opposed to the quarterly payments currently in place. The bill now moves to the House, although Speaker DeLeo (D-Winthrop) has not indicated a timeline for taking up the bill.

 

Budget Conference Conducts 1st Meeting

The six-member FY12 state budget conference committee held its first meeting on Wednesday. The conference committee is tasked with forging consensus and producing a compromise budget bill which then goes to the House and Senate for up or down votes. Both House and Senate budgets relied on $800 million in savings from the MassHealth program, which could involve constraining provider payments and rates to achieve savings, according to the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute. The new fiscal year begins July 1st, giving the committee a tight schedule to finalize the budget, which must be voted on in each chamber and then reviewed and signed by the Governor.

 

Speaker Outlines Gambling Timeline

House Speaker DeLeo (D – Winthrop) on Monday outlined a timeline for passing an expanded gambling bill. According to the Speaker, his desire is to pass the bill in July. The Speaker made clear that he and Senate President Murray (D – Plymouth) have had only preliminary discussions with the Governor, and that he hopes to take up the issue following the passage of the FY2012 budget plan. The Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies held a hearing on the expanded gaming bills in early May. The Governor has said that the issue of gambling is much higher on Speaker DeLeo’s agenda than on his own. Although the House and Senate and Governor were generally in agreement about authorizing casinos in the state before the end of last session, the issue of whether slot machines should be allowed at the state racetracks ultimately derailed the bill’s final passage.

 

Tornado Budget Bill Referred to Committee

On Tuesday, Governor Patrick filed a $52 million tornado relief budget bill that would pay for emergency response efforts and expedite municipal borrowing authority for towns affected by last week’s tornadoes. The bill would allow Western Massachusetts municipalities to execute short-term borrowing for emergencies without legislative approval and enable cities and towns to assess FY2012 property taxes based on the damaged conditions of properties. Both Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray have expressed support for the tornado relief legislation. On Thursday, the House referred the supplemental budget bill to the House Ways and Means Committee.

 

Business Confidence in Massachusetts Falls

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) measures business confidence in the state through a survey it sends out to its members. The AIM confidence index is currently at 51.7, a 4.4% decrease since May. A score of 50 is considered neutral and any rating below 50 signifies generally negative sentiments about business confidence in the state. AIM President Rick Lord attributed the drop to economic reports last month that showed disappointing growth and job creation rates in the state. The index has remained above 50 for the previous eight months. The index reached its all-time low in February 2009.

 

 

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

MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
The Architects Building
52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301
www.architects.org

 

 

MAPC’s Greater Boston Cycling and Walking Map

Interactive map of walking and bike trails in Boston area.  Zoom in and out, add and subtract elements.

http://trailmap.mapc.org/

Selectman training tomorrow by Massachusetts Municipal Association

MMA’s Leadership Conference for Selectmen Print
Click Here to Register for this Event
Date & Time: Saturday, June 11 2011, 8:30am - 3:00pm

Location: Pleasant Valley Country Club, Sutton

This event is free of charge. All selectman are invited.

Registration deadline is June 8.

Agenda

8 a.m.
Registration, networking and continental breakfast

8:30 a.m.
Welcome and introductions
• Paul DeRensis, MSA President and Sherborn Selectman

8:45 a.m.
Opening Session: The Honorable Robert DeLeo, Speaker of the House

9:30 a.m.
MMA Legislative Update with MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith
• FY12 state budget
• Municipal health insurance reform
• Pension reform

10 a.m.
Break

10:10 a.m.
Breakout Session A: Budgeting Basics for Newly Elected Selectmen
• Budget Timetables
• Capital Improvement Plans
• Forecasting
• Long-Term Debt
• Best Practices
Speaker: John Musante, Town Manager, Amherst

Breakout Session B: Social Media: Building Community and Connecting People
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and blogs promote transparency and encourage two-way communication. Why should local governments use social media? Because it is a powerful communication tool for local government.
Speakers:
Colleen Corona, Board of Selectmen Chair, Easton
Don Martilli, Director of Social Media Strategy, One-to-One Interactive

11:20 a.m.
Break

11:30 a.m.
Breakout Session C: Major Changes to Governance Laws

• Open Meeting Law
• Ethics and Conflict-of-Interest Law
• Public Records
• Executive Session
Speakers:
Margaret Hurley, Director, Municipal Law Unit, Attorney General’s Office
Jonathan Sclarsic, Assistant Attorney General, Attorney General’s Office
Lauren Goldberg, Principal, Kopelman  and Paige

Breakout Session D: Collective Bargaining Pitfalls: Top Mistakes to Avoid
This session will offer practical strategies to avoid costly litigation in collective bargaining and when reviewing employment contracts.
Speaker: Katherine Hesse, Partner, Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane

12:45 p.m.
Working lunch
What You’d Like to Know But Haven’t Asked: New and Seasoned Officials Discuss Common Concerns

1:30 p.m.
Strategies for Stakeholder Engagement in Local Decision-Making
Efforts by Town Hall to involve citizens in local decision-making often fall short. There are challenges to educate citizens and to create useful dialogue. The closing speaker will describe how consensus-building techniques can be used to reach agreement – even when there are deep divisions in a community.

Speaker: Lawrence Susskind, a renowned public dispute mediator, is the Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at MIT and Director of the Public Disputes Program at Harvard Law School. He is the author of more than 15 books, including “Breaking Robert’s Rules” (2006).

2:30 p.m.
Adjournment