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Archive for the ‘Clinton Politics’ Category

Planning, Blackmail and Inconsistent Policy

Friday, August 5th, 2011

The Planning Board is the latest Clinton board to not follow a set policy, They also don’t use consistent decision making points to approve projects. This isn’t a blanket indictment of the entire board but an opinion that some members should stop playing “king for a day”.

In some cases it’s sure, go ahead and build a plain vanilla building, we’re fine with that, in others such as Auto Zone we have near extortion, new concrete sidewalks, new granite curbing all part of the plan before even going before the board as they must have done their homework and seen how other similar projects by larger corporations were treated. It does seem that if a local entity were to propose a similar project it would just slide through the process.

For the Planning Board to nearly chase a national chain and the jobs that come with it out of town, over a ridiculous feature such as a brick facade, is just mind numbing.  Do they think they’re living in Sudbury or Weston, or do they thing they’re going to turn our unique little mill town into a tony bedroom community?  Sure they need to make sure building designs aren’t hideous but basically twisting their arm to get more than the infrastructure improvements they seemingly included in their plans is just plain blackmail. What is their policy, is it written anywhere or is it just applied haphazardly? It seems like a game to try and get as much as possible out of these larger corporations, that’s terrible anti-business policy in action.

Lucky for Auto Zone the Planning Board botched the hearing and were able to reconsider the same night. Bad for us that they can’t run a public hearing properly. If they had run it correctly, and delayed the project, Auto Zone just may have said have a nice day we’ll put it in another town. Not to mention that the property owner did the town a favor and demolished the existing structures that were there to make a buildable lot.

We as a town have a lot to learn about professionalism and how to run a $38 million dollar corporation. Has the BOS gotten off their asses yet and hired anyone for the “hybrid Economic Development / Town Planning position” ? it’s only been a year now…Yeah I didn’t think so.

A Concerned Citizen

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Mr. John Martin addressed the BOS last night during public comment and told them that they “needed to change the way they delivered services” due to reduced state aid – This is an understatement, They need to meet regularly like previous boards did. When I was on the BOS from 2005-2008 we met every 2 weeks accept during July and August. Certainly more than the once a month or so they meet now. They should be meeting every other week to not only carry on our business but to brainstorm on how to make Clinton a better, more prosperous town. How about reigning in costs as Mr. Martin illustrated?

Regionalization, the BOS talked about this a year ago and it slipped through the cracks, Mr. Martin reminded them which is great! It all comes down to a something called leadership. Anyone can be trained to run a meeting but to lead you need to step up and lead by example. Clearly the Clinton BOS doesn’t know this or how to do it. First you need to meet more than once a month, second, you actually need to come up with original idea’s or tried and true idea’s other towns have implemented and then put them into action.

People like Mr. John Martin are very important to our town and it’s citizens, We need watchdogs and especiallyn a watchdog group to hold the BOS to some kind of standard, to keep these elected officials working for “We the people” and to give pro-active input on important subjects and policy issues.  I will give Mike Dziokonski his propers as he actually volunteered to take care of some items the BOS has not dealt with.

They put a spin on it like they were doing all manner of things and we don’t know what’s going on. Of course things are being done, if not the town would close down. There are subjects that have been discussed and not executed or implemented, some are which Mr. Martin was talking about when he said They “needed to change the way they delivered services”. The main point Mr. Martin illustrated  was to change with the times and economy, become pro-active and actually work on the things that will help Clinton thrive or at least survive.

Thank you Mr. Martin, you have my support and my thanks for being OUR advocate. Please keep up the good work, if you need any help or information I’m here to help.

Economic Trash Talking

Friday, May 27th, 2011

As the majority of  Massachusetts towns go, Clinton doesn’t follow…because we’re smarter, or so BOS candidate Mike Dziokonski thinks.  At the recent candidates night, Board of Selectmen candidates talked about an important economic policy, that was the annual setting of the residential-commercial/industrial tax rate split. Dziokonski said, “I think we’re smarter than 89 percent of the towns,” referring to Champagne’s figures*. “I don’t think it’s a deterrent to business,” he said, adding the actual rate and actual tax bills were attractive. “I’m fairly happy with the split.

*Mr. Champagne was referring to the fact that 89% of cities-towns have lower rate splits (309 out of 348) and 241 have no split (69%)..

How presumptuous to say such a thing. Clinton is most likely in a worse financial mess than 89% of the cities and towns in Massachusetts, not smarter. That’s not to say we don’t have smart people here, but the failed economic policies of the past are why we’re in the fiscal morass we’re in.  Dziokonski doesn’t think it’s a deterrent to businesses, to which I say he should go talk to our small business owners and ask them what they think.  I have and they are hurting from it. Look no further than your small neighborhood market or garage, how does this almost doubled property tax effect them? Look at larger businesses like Nypro and Weetabix. They pay astronomical tax bills, if they didn’t maybe they’d have the ability to hire more employees. Mr. Dziokonski also said “I think businesses in this country are presently taxed at the lowest rate since just after World War II”. This is a misleading statement, in general the largest of our corporations such as GE for instance, do take advantage of loopholes in federal tax laws, not the small to medium businesses that are located in Clinton. This was a really disingenuous comparison of federal taxation vs local property taxes and is pre-election rhetoric to enable Mr. Dziokonski to justify the lopsided rate split Clinton uses.  But then again he thinks we’re smarter than 89% of the communities in Massachusetts!

Mr. LeBlanc said “he was against changing it in favor of businesses, saying a change would not help attract business; availability of space was a bigger issue”. That too is a fallacy as Clinton has many empty factory buildings and storefronts. I guess he’s trying to cover his posterior since as Chairman of the BOS he’s let the position of Director of Community and Economic Development languish. Empty since September 2010, previously manned by someone who was totally inept and did nothing for a year and vacant for a long time prior to the inept office holder.  So just about 2 1/2 years of no Economic Development activity in Clinton. This was also on their sponsor, MaryRose Dickhauts watch.

So as you can clearly see there is a connection in that they are all anti-business, they don’t realize that a thriving business community is the key to increased tax revenue and a better Clinton.

Discount Coupons and Ducks

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Discount Coupons and Ducks

I’m sure some of you will disagree and there will be a hue and cry about this subject but c’est la vie.  However, this is factual and as taxpayers you deserve and should expect transparency in all facets of your local town government.

Some offices such as the town treasurer that are now elected should be appointed (IMHO) as I am being reminded by the following items. The first example of why is that at tax time all town employees received their W2 forms. Simply insert your finger and pull it open…Hmm, what’s this, a discount coupon for 20% off at H&R Block! I wonder what this is all about. In fact this situation leaves me with more questions than answers

* Were local accounting firms allowed to make bid proposals to advertise on these legal documents?

* Were they outbid by H & R Block?

* What was the bidding process?

* Was the bidding process advertised?

* Was there even a bidding process, and if not, why not?

* Did the town receive compensation for this advertising or did only the vendor profit?

* How do local accounting firms feel about this slight? Do they even know?

This is just one small example of the need for an appointed treasurers position that reports in to the newly created STRONG town administrator as a check and balance. What do most citizens and taxpayers know about our local financial situation and all the responsibilities that go along with it such as Bonds, Bans, Free Cash, Payment Schedules, Interest Rates and all manner of fiscal and financial activity and responsibility…I think that I know the answer. Not much…they’re too busy with other more important aspects of their personal lives.

And please, I don’t want to hear that old adage “My door is always open, nothing is hidden” – The average taxpayer wouldn’t know where to start to look. I’ve seen behind the curtain and it’s not the Utopia you’d want to believe it is.

QUACK…The second telling incident is with public employees who have coverage with AFLAC. (I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials with the duck) One may wonder “Why am I getting notices that my coverage is being terminated due to non-payment of premiums, I paid for this out of my paycheck?” Then another letter comes saying the policy was reinstated: Sounds to me like someone isn’t paying the bill on time. This wasn’t a one time incident…it’s happened multiple times in a row. So, what happened?

So what else is awry in our financial house?  Inquiring minds want to know. It’s beyond the time for this to become an appointed position with a policy for reporting our financial health, bond and ban transactions and balances, debt, and every other important financial detail to the taxpaying public – perhaps via the town’s underutilized website.

But I doubt this will ever happen as long as we let this stay as an elected position.  I’m really disappointed in the Board of Selectmen for not adding the article they had to the Town Meeting Warrant.

Double Standard Budget Process

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

So in Clinton we have a double standard when it comes to our budgeting process. The BOS in a no doubt political move voted 4-1 to create a full time position within the Senior Center staff.  All departments had been told to prepare -3% budgets, The senior center or COA budget is not -3%  but somewhere in positive territory.

No one begrudges the Seniors the help they need but in this day and age, when we will likely have to lay off Policemen, Dispatchers, Firemen, DPW workers, Teachers, etc why are we allowing our elected officials to add positions, this is not the time to do so unless you can by some stroke of luck, apply for and receive grant money.  This motion was made by Selectman David Sargent and voted on in the affirmative by Selectmen Sargent, Leblanc, Sheridan and Dickhaut with only Selectman Connolly fairly voting against this unfair budget maneuver.

Please remember this when going to the polls to vote in June.  Vote for a candidate that will stand up for you and be fair, to not only us taxpayers, but to the other departments that are effected by the cuts.  No one department is more deserving than another and unfairly allowing one department to add to its budget and staff while others have to cut budgets and potentially cut jobs sends a clarion message that this Board of Selectmen plays favorites.

On another subject, I was just looking at my last Blog from January and was wondering where we were in regard to hiring a replacement community and economic development director? Nothing has been communicated to us lowly taxpayers about the progress being made, if any. I was also wondering if the positions the BOS decided to let the Town Administrator fill were now filled?  No communication from the BOS, no transparency.

Economic Damnation

Friday, January 21st, 2011

I find it quite disconcerting that the Town of Clinton via the Board of Selectmen have given such little thought and action to the area of Economic Development. After the sudden departure of our last Community & Economic Development Director (Herein called Director) you would have thought it to be a clear wake up cal,l to hopefully spark a thorough study and to restore or redefine the position with the immediacy it deserved.

I believe the citizens of Clinton are really being cheated by the laissez faire attitude this important department and function have been given. The BOS has had since September 2nd 2010, the day Mr. Duff submitted his resignation to work on this and they have not done anything accept to give it lip service.

Look no further than the Town of Bolton, They have an Economic Development Committee that meets alongside their Town Planner. Why doesn’t our reactive BOS get off their keisters and do something proactive for a change. It’s not hard to start a committee (costs nothing accept advertising cost) and if formed our local talent could bring a lot of good data and ideas. Here is Bolton’s web page for reference.

I couldn’t help but notice the billboard in Bolton center asking residents to fill out an economic development questionnaire. Could you imagine Clinton doing something proactive like that? I couldn’t even fathom it with the current cast of characters. They voted to raise the tax rate split, becoming one of the few towns in the state to have such a tremendously high over-taxation of local businesses , that’s in my opinion. So much for economic development, it’s more like economic suicide.

So combine the fact we’re in what the economic community calls the “red zone” with regard to economic development and anybody moving a business here. For instance, if a company in Marlboro is paying much more per square foot to lease a building and could move here (ala Scholastic Book) and save quite a bit of money, it would be eaten up by the immense tax burden incurred.

There was a concerted effort back when Scholastic moved here to lower this rate a few percent per year to help in locating business here. This was wholeheartedly welcomed by our then Director Don Lowe and Chamber of Commerce Director Megan McCaffery.  Now we have a BOS with a cavalier attitude toward the business community and could care less about attracting new business. Yes, It’s a sad state of affairs when your elected leaders don’t really care to expeditiously address something this important, something that has the ability to improve our tax base and therefore our quality of life in Clinton.

I will again mention that Selectmen Connolly and Sheridan did try to lower the tax rate split only to be rebuffed by Selectmen LeBlanc, Dickhaut and Sargent.

Just wondering where the complete Master Plan is? I believe it has information about economic development in it and has not been offered to the public that I’m aware of. I did find a master plan goals document that had some suggestions. Why aren’t these used at least as fodder for discussion between the BOS?

From the master plan goals document, there is an economic development fact sheet on but it links to the master plan goals document. I’d like to read that too:

-Establish an Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC): marketing, acquisition/redevelopment of difficult sites.

-Reorganize rules, regulations and standards in commercial and industrial zones; emphasize quality.

-Adopt Chapter 43D, the Expedited Permitting Law; consolidate permitting procedures wherever possible, develop a permitting guide.

-Encourage commercial development of appropriate type, scale and appearance, considering surrounding land uses, setting and context

-Make fair, timely permitting decisions by publishing clear development standards and applying them consistently.

-Institute growth management policies that encourage infill development and reuse of existing buildings over new development in outlying areas of town

-Establish a full-time town planner position.