Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Worcesterites in spandex, sporting tails.

I'm not a fan of Walmart.  I've never bought anything there, nor will I darken the door of Worcester's new Walmart.  If we're going to be a Walmart in Worcester, the only benefit will be the first Worcesterite captured on People of Walmart.

I wonder if I will know them?


I've been playing a new game with myself as I read the T&G every day.  Is this article worth my money?

Today's Dianne Williamson's column falls into the "Not worth my money!" category.  Did the editors screw up and post Laura Porter's column instead of Dianne's?  (No offense intended, Laura.  I just have higher expectations for the lead columnist on the front page of the Local section.)

Judging by the comments, I am in the minority when it comes to dislike for this column.  Perhaps it is because I own a Droid, was able to read the instruction manual that came with it, and even read the extended manual on that-there-Internets-thing-a-ma-bob.

What a surprise.

I posted about 165 Grafton Street and the CSX plans back in March.  While reading through Jeremy Shulkin's excellent notes on the Public Works and Transportation meeting regarding CSX, I caught this nugget from Phil Clancy:
"A new plan has been proposed that would limit truck traffic on Grafton St. The new plan calls for closing the tip of Coral St. (between Union Place and Grafton St.) to anything but CSX traffic (to do this Frank’s Flower Shop will be taken by the company). It’ll be easy for trucks exiting I-290 East to get off and enter the CSX site right away, as well as enter I-290 East, but I must have missed how they’ll get to I-290 West. CSX estimates this will cost $2 mil for “modification.” Councilor Paul Clancy asked about business relocation, which CSX seemed ok with. He also asked about keeping that closed portion of Coral st. open to one-way traffic."
I figured Ron Gestone (owner of 165 Grafton Street) wanted his parcel of land included in the CSX expansion.  Who wouldn't want to unload a property with an empty storefront onto our new neighbors, especially when there is a $2 million price tag associated with the redesign?  165 Grafton Street is valued at $191,800.  Anyone want to make predictions on the final sale price?

I'm curious why Councilor Clancy wants to know about business relocation.  There isn't a business at 165 Grafton Street.  It's still empty!  Perhaps the plans call for the removal of the buildings at 169 and 177 Grafton Street, which actually house active businesses.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

One lump or two?

I won't be attending this afternoon's Tea Party downtown. I don't believe in tying up Worcester's traffic in the name of confused history and 'independent' politics. Despite my (almost) constant voting record in favor of third party candidates and independents, this is a movement I won't support.

Let's be realistic. This movement would have some legitimacy if their call for financial responsibility railed against the Administrations of Reagan and Bush 43 for raising the deficit along with the Obama Administration's stimulus. Everything I read and hear from the Tea Party ignores Bush 43's signature on September 2008's TARP and places the blame on Pelosi and Reid (ignoring the Republicans who voted for the package.) Partisanship currently trumps principle among the Tea Party crowd.

If the Tea Party movement can only criticize one party and one political philosophy, then it isn't independent. Principles cross party lines and philosophies and finds the best solutions and candidates, regardless of affiliation. A truly independent movement would run their own candidates (and probably lose to the established two party system.) A truly independent movement exists regardless of electoral success, and their influence resonates throughout intra-party debates over platforms. In the case of the Tea Party, they only seem to care about invalidating the elections lost in 2006 and 2008. America's greatness exists because of peaceful electoral transitions between parties and movements, not through threats of violence, secession, and revolution because one party won control of two-thirds of our government. (Here's a hint for the Tea Partiers- checks and balances has nothing to do with balance between political parties. It's about the balance of power between the three branches of our government and limits any one branch from exerting too much power. In other words, checks and balances invalidates the Cheney philosophy of an imperial presidency.)

My other problem with the Tea Party is their resurrection of State's Rights argument. State's Rights and the 10th Amendment has been historically used to justify the continuation of slavery and Jim Crow. The 10th Amendment was rendered null by the 14th Amendment after the Civil War. Resurrecting this argument after Barack Obama's election seems like too much of a coincidence especially when combined with the racist rhetoric, ignorance, and fury coming from the fringes of the Tea Party.

It seems like the Tea Party has become a mainstay in our daily media, despite it's utter lack of electoral or mainstream success. I don't remember the Green Party, Libertarians, or even Ross Perot receiving sustained daily attention on par with the Tea Party. Giving credit to the Tea Party for Scott Brown's election completely ignores the actual results of the election. The largest swing vote in the Senate election were independent voters who voted for Obama and then voted for Brown. I doubt the Tea Party embraces anyone who shifted that quickly, and I doubt there will be many of those 'turncoats' present at Lincoln Square today.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Great Wall of Trash.

I was down at Beaver Brook for practice Saturday afternoon from 2 until 5.  There were three DPW trucks set up in the parking lot, with three workers waiting for people to drop off yard waste.  There was still a pile of yard waste at the gate leading into the parking lot, and that pile was still there after they closed up shop and went home for the night.
Looks like I have to file a work order with the DPW to get them to pick up the trash they ignored all Saturday afternoon.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Foley Stadium

I was down at Beaver Brook Park this past Tuesday afternoon.  Chandler Street was packed with parked cars due to multiple high school games at Foley Stadium.  (I can't call Foley by any other name, just like I still use Great Woods and the Centrum instead of their current corporate sponsor names.)
 As I drew closer, I realized the Beaver Brook/Foley parking lot was locked and empty.
I know the School department employees at Foley have a key to the lot.  They are supposed to unlock it during games to prevent traffic backups on Chandler Street, which is one of the heaviest traveled roads in the city.  In the past the upper lot has been left locked to prevent people from dumping yard waste and trash in the lot when the DPW crews aren't there.  It doesn't work.  Instead, we get a wall of yard waste at the gate like this:
It was far worse last week- the Great Wall of Beaver Brook extended the whole length of the wood fence and covered most of the gate.  This 'little' pile accumulated on Sunday and Monday.  I volunteer at Ted Williams Little League, and after numerous complaints, we received a key for the upper lot because our parking on Mayfield Street always fills up like this: 
 The few times our parents have parked on Chandler Street, they were ticketed.  I didn't see any WPD out ticketing the Foley crowd.  Hopefully this won't happen again!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Baseball season's here, so it's going to be a bit of a challenge to write as much as I used to.  I did catch this Worcester reference in Sunday's Globe.

I'm not a big fan of casinos or gambling, which functions as a regressive tax as much as it lures in high rollers. I find Troy Siebel's argument regarding entertainers and ticket prices very compelling. I imagine any casino will also draw customers away from bars and restaurants in whatever town our Legislature 'deems' casino worthy.

(This post brought to you by my phone, because Charter's internet service died mid-post. It's the second time in the past two weeks!)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Michael Stopa, Candidate.

Michael Stopa (Facebook profile here) resides in Holliston and is a physicist at Harvard University.  He has degrees from Wesleyan University and the University of Maryland, as outlined in his campaign bio and his work page.

Mr. Stopa's website is the most extensive of all the challenger's sites.  His site contains a Candidate Statement, a Platform, and position papers on Fiscal Sanity, the Ryan Plan, Health Care, Global Warming, the War on Terror, and Illegal Aliens.

Here are his stances on the issues, with quotes:

-Supports a reduction of 10% of federal employees and freezes that number until the national employment rate falls to 6%.
-Supports the protesters in Iran.
-Supports H.R. 6110.
-Opposes Cap and Trade legislation (reasons here).
-Opposes civilian trials for enemy combatants (reasons here).
-Supports the increase of combat troops in Afghanistan.
-Opposes the recently passed health care bill:
"First, it would not reduce costs. Second, it would ultimately place the government in the position of deciding which treatments and medicines were available and which were not. Only the very rich would be able to afford procedures and drugs outside of the governments sanctioned ones. And this leads to the final, and I think most crucial reason why rationed healthcare would be a disaster. It goes without saying that people want to lead longer, healthier lives. Never before has the potential of doing so been greater. Medical research is on the threshold of solving mysteries and discovering cures that will radically improve the quality and even the length of our lives. But medical research requires investment and risk. It has already been shown that the pharmaceutical industry in Europe, by virtue of government regulation and socialized medicine, has fallen well behind that of the United States and that the gap is increasing. Nothing will bring research to a screeching halt faster than replacing the hundreds of millions of consumers in America with a single, all-powerful consumer: the United States Government. If equality of access is what you desire at all cost, then choose Obamacare. If, on the other hand, you want for you and your children to live longer..."
-Supports gradual re-patriation of illegal immigrants:
"Re-patriation of illegal aliens is not, practically speaking, difficult. A temporary amnesty, whereby illegal aliens are immediately given temporary work visas and, independently, employers of illegal aliens are given amnesty from prosecution in return for reporting the employees for whom their work documents are suspicious (or whom they know to be in the country illegally), would result in the vast majority of illegal aliens being quickly recorded. A suitable period could be chosen that would permit those here illegally to sell any acquired property (also finish school years) and in an orderly fashion return to their countries. It would not matter much if this period were a year or longer. This program could then be combined with an implementation of E-verify which, sooner or later, will surely become the law of the land."

-Supports cuts in capital gains and business taxes to end the recession:
"What we in the middle class want is a reduction in taxes so that as we grow older and advance we are not having to run twice as fast to keep up with increasing marginal tax rates. What we in the middle class want is less government, not more."
Mr. Stopa has an excellent site, full of information on his policies and low on flash.  I hope he continues to publish his position papers so we can get a better sense of all his beliefs, not just the hot button topics of this election cycle.

Robert Chipman, Candidate.

Robert Chipman (Facebook profile here) is running for the 3rd Congressional District.  His website is a work in progress with very little content.  I suggest expanding your website if you want anyone to know who you are!

Here are his stances on the issues, with quotes:

-Health care:
"Health care is under attack by Federal Government under the “charade” that they will make it better.  Have we ever seen the government make anything better?  Does a 2000 page document make sense to anyone? Congress doesn’t care.  No matter how ill conceived and burdensome to Taxpayers, Elderly, our Children."

-The role of government:
"It intrudes on every part of our lives. What we are earning, day after day, goes to pay Government’s unsustainable growth.  Our private economy sector and their commitment to employment for citizens must be the centerpiece to all recovery and any “taxpayer stimulus”."
 -National Security"
"has been “handcuffed” by this current administration and has put the United States in the worst international position since President Carter’s presidency. We need to listen to and support our military and intelligence agencies.  We rely on them to protect our country."
"I was raised Roman Catholic and consider myself Pro-Life."

Robert Delle, Candidate.

Robert Delle is from Westboro and is currently employed as an attorney.  He was born in Worcester, and graduated from UMass with a degree in Political Economy.  Mr. Delle served as an alternate delegate to the state Democratic Convention in 1990 and also served for 5 years on the Westboro Planning Board.  In 1992 Mr. Delle ran as an independent candidate for Worcester's 9th District, finishing third behind Marsha Platt and George Peterson. (Results here.)  Mr. Delle had this to say about the 1992 race:
"If Olympic medals were given out, I would of won Silver.  My opponents were the present House Minority George Peterson and Marcia Platt who eventually won that year. A political truism was established.  Two guys and a woman in a race, the woman is always going to win!  Anyhow, I lost big time and mirrored what Perot did with my percentage. That told me about independent movements, they never win. There are only two sets of values, and independents will flock to the values that are most pressing at the time."
 Mr. Delle goes into great detail about his life and the evolution of his political beliefs on his Who Am I page.  A detailed, personal account like this is rare and very refreshing to see on a candidate's website.  He also has links to his blog, but there's only two posts since January 25th.  (Come on Bob, post more!)

Mr. Delle has three pages outlining his beliefs: Why I'm a Republican, My Experience, and Jim McGovern is the problem.  He uses the slogan "Bipartisanship Creates Prosperity."

Here are his stances on the issues, with a few quotes:

-Believes we should emulate the Reagan years:
"I believe we have to go back to the Policies of Reagan. Where there any wars during this period?  The answer was no we were respected and at the very least where left alone by other Governments. What about the economy, his policies gave us a 25 year economic expansion, that would certainly look good about now."
-Opposes cap and trade:
"This is a good opportunity to see the big democratic lies about human activity, especially the human activity, that gives us enjoyment like travel having things, and driving nice cars is the cause of our destroying the world. Warming up? The earth is in a constant cycle of warmth and cooling caused by sun spots, changes in currents and natural occurrences like meteors and volcanoes. Its not people enjoying life that is causing the planet to be destroyed."
-Believes in cutting taxes:
"The economy dropped from a 10% unemployment to the largest economic because of his policies of growing the economy and tax revenues by cutting taxes! Voodoo economics worked!"
-Opposes the recently passed health care bill:
"Mr. McGovern got up and chatted about his socialist dream of “Equal Health care”, with him and his pals getting best of course. I was actually sitting near an old timer with a Leyete Gulf cap, a WWII vet, and he is telling him that he and Nancy Pelosi knows best for his health care and don’t worry the death panel will be kind!"
My thoughts on his site?  As an independent candidate, he's the author of all the content.  While it is refreshing to have that sort of candor, Mr. Delle needs some editing help.   He especially needs to detail where he stands on more issues.  I really struggled to find concrete examples of his positions, but plenty of his ideology.

Patrick Barron, Candidate.

Nicole has been urging me to do more reviews of candidate's webpages, and today's post about the 3rd Congressional District gave me a lot of material.

I'll begin with Parick Barron (Facebook profile here):

Mr. Barron is from Shrewsbury and is a 14 year employee of the Massachusetts Department of Health.  He has two slogans featured prominently on his webpage: "A Better Way" and "Vote People Not Parties."
Mr Barron has three pages devoted to his positions: Issues 1, Issues 2, Issues 3.  He also has two pages devoted to Jim McGovern: The Incumbent and a campaign brochure.  There is one About Me page.

Here are his stances on the issues, with a few quotes:

-Believes schools need improving, and should be controlled locally.
-Won't accept PAC money.
-Supports all tax decreases.
-Supports eliminating all congressional earmarks.
-Is pro-choice.
-Supports same sex marriage and civil unions.
-Supports the 2nd Ammendment.
-Opposes Cap and Trade, yet believes the U.S. hasn't properly used domestic and renewable resources. 
-Opposes Healthcare reform:
"As someone who has worked in government healthcare for the last fourteen years, my position is clear.  I do not want the government running our health care.  We do need to have an improved system of healthcare. This health care must be cost efficient, comprehensive, and available to all. Per usual there are many, many steps to achieve this without a massive overhaul of the existing system. Unfortunately, many in Washington thrive in the dysfunction of the bureaucracy."
 -Death penalty:
"In theory I support the death penalty. As it is implemented now I do not. The average time a person spends on death row is approximately 12 years. The cost of trying death penalty cases is hundreds of millions more than life without parole convictions. If there is a way to make this process quicker, more efficient, cost less and yet ensure complete fairness I would support it. Right now it is not financially practical. This money could be better spent on other issues related to law enforcement and the courts."
"Washington has a failed immigration policy. There are close to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. yet Washington still has no clear policy. Washington is not competent enough to find and deport 12 million people. We will need a better solution. The first step to solving immigration is having full control of the borders. Without this, any other reforms will just be more failing policy. Simplify the process. Step one, control the borders. When Washington has shown the ability to do this then we will be ready to address other issues."
 -Opposes the financial bailouts:
"I support auditing the federal reserve, or any division of the government. The government should be accountable to the people."
-On national security, believes in "Peace through Strength."
"I do not agree terrorists should be given the same rights as American citizens."
My thoughts on his site?  It's clearly his words and ideas on the site, and while it lacks polish, you get an clear idea about how he thinks and what he believes.  Mr. Barron could use some editing and expansion and clarification on the issues pages, and a lot more substance.  (I'll probably say that about every candidate- I have a preference for candidates who geek out about details.)

2010 Massachusetts 3rd Congressional Race.

I read the T&G article regarding the Tea Party Night in Northboro the other day, and realized I had no idea who any of these challengers were.  So here are the websites of all the candidates for the 3rd:

Patrick Barron (Shrewsbury)

Robert Chipman (Plainville)

Robert Delle (Westboro)

Jim McGovern (Worcester)

Michael Stopa (Holliston)