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Archive for the ‘Clinton Politics’ Category

Confluence Of Issues

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

So here we are again back at the rifle range issue, although I have a lot more to say than selectmen Dickhaut and LeBlanc are plain wrong on that issue. they’re wrong on a lot more than that.

Selectman LeBlanc seems to be doing what’s in his own selfish interest, not what’s in the best interest of our town, our police force and in effect US. I would posit that LeBlanc has had conversations with the Lancaster town administrator that undermine the work our town counsel is doing to preserve our right as a town to use the land for police firearms qualification. Mr LeBlanc, if you’d like to deny that please chime right in!

Now we have the Lancaster police applying for a special permit to qualify and practice at the range they use WHICH IS ZONED RESIDENTIAL. I question why Lancaster hasn’t applied their zoning laws equally to their own police department. If Clinton gets a cease and desist order for qualifying on residential property then Lancaster MUST get the same under their zoning laws. If not then nullify the one against the Clinton Police Department. This selective enforcement is hypocritical and wrong.

Now for the financial ramifications. We have a BOS that’s supposed to be looking out for our best interests, they are NOT. When they formulated the budget it should have taken the overtime line item into account. The police shouldn’t have to rely on overtime for the normal everyday operation of their department. I understand budgets have to be cut, however common sense shows that in times of financial turmoil crime rises, it’s a fact. Now we may have less police on the street, dispatchers laid off and replaced with officers who would be on the street performing their duties. The BOS has botched it’s budget big time on this front.

So here’s where the rifle range issue, safety and fiscal responsibility merge together into one large confluence. First, we have an underfunded police department. Second we have officers that haven’t been able to qualify and practice because Dickhaut and LeBlanc are on a mission to shut down the rifle range and are in my opinion in collusion with Lancaster town officials to undermine our best interests. Third, to qualify the police may have to go to a private out of town range at some cost to the town. I’ve heard price tags of $10,000+ per year and a need for more overtime which we have no money budgeted for. We’ll be less safe, with less officers on the street and incur higher costs.

Finally, if they succeed in closing the rifle range it would need to have a lead remediation done at a cost in the neighborhood of $2,000,000. These selectmen are a detriment to the people of Clinton and should be damn ashamed of their actions. They have put our safety at risk, our financial state at risk and have potentially damaged our police departments relationship with our sister town…for what just so some people don’t have to hear the police qualify during the day for a couple weeks a year, These selectmen are a bad joke who put their self serving interests first and put our police department in the middle of their political brinkmanship. Please remember this next spring when you go to the polls.

A Double Standard

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Lancaster has issued cease and desist orders to the Clinton Fish and Game and also to the Clinton Police Department stating that they cannot shoot at the Clinton rifle range because it’s partially located in Lancaster and zoned residential.

Well the range that the Lancaster Police use is located in Lancaster and is zoned residential…How is it that they can continue to shoot and qualify there and Clinton is prohibited?

I understand the Lancaster Police have requested a special permit to shoot on their residentially zoned range, if this is approved I would expect the same standard to be used for the Clinton P.D,  If not this is a complete double standard and totally unacceptable.

The Clinton BOS that hardly ever meets anymore (last meeting was somewhere like October the 7th) and is finally meeting again November 10th should be fighting for our sovereign right to use this resource. I really don’t care if it has to go to litigation.  Because very importantly if Clinton loses the right to shoot there and the range reverts to ” open land” there will be a $2,000,000+ bill for lead remediation and that is a hell of a lot more than a simple zoning litigation case will cost, and that’s why we have a Town Solicitor in the first place.

This whole thing is so out of control with the anti-gun duo of LeBlanc and Dickhaut causing disention beetween the two towns police forces that we probably are better off that they only meet every five weeks or so. They’ve pushed their self serving agenda to the limit, trying as hard as possible to keep the “blue collared, regular Joe’s” off that range and turn that section of town into a private enclave for the prestigious professionals that live there. Its a  private enclave for the priveleged. UNBELIEVABLE!

Backpedaling And Ignoring Our Real Issues

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

In the latest edition of the Tines and Courier here is what Lancaster Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco has to say about OUR rifle range:

“Lancaster doesn’t want police barred from shooting at the Brandli parcel — it wants to talk. So said Town Administrator (TA) Orlando Pacheco this week, adding that he was disappointed with the anger and name-calling that followed Lancaster Building Inspector Peter Munro’s letter to Clinton selectmen, late last month, ordering them to “cease and desist” discharging of weapons at the rifle range off South Meadow Road.”

“We know the Clinton Police Department qualifies [its officers to carry firearms] in October,” Pacheco said Tuesday. “We wanted to send that, really, as a way of motivating them to file a special permit.

First off there is no WE in a unilateral decision. Pacheco reportedly ordered the Lancaster Building Inspector to issue the cease and desist order. I’m not so sure that it was at the request of any Lancaster resident either.

But was it as unilateral as it looked??? I’d make an educated guess or call it my opinion that it wasn’t. (The Lancaster BOS were out of the loop).  As the story unfolds we find that the police officer that was verbally browbeat  (this has been described as a hissy fit.) for practicing there was met at the gate by Clinton BOS Vice Chairman LeBlanc, his friend and a Clinton firefighter who lives nearby.

Second, isn’t it strange that instead of requesting to be on the agenda of a Clinton BOS meeting a cease and desist order was issued…to get Clinton to talk!?  this is all too coincidental. Backpedaling is a better word to describe this. I’ll wager an educated guess that there was collusion between the two CLINTON selectmen involved as well as the Lancaster TA.  Yes, the anti second amendment and anti law enforcement duo  most likely called their willing ally in Lancaster and requested the cease and desist be ordered against their OWN police department.  Now the Lancaster TA  said it was to get Clinton to talk, fat chance. It was just another ham handed effort by our horrendous pair of self serving selectmen to silence the rifle range.

Another quote from the Times and Courier:

Dickhaut and LeBlanc also defended a meeting they had attended, separate from the other selectmen, to discuss the cease-and-desist order with the police chief and town administrator.

“On Sept. 20, I was called by two residents, one in Clinton, one in Lancaster,” LeBlanc said. “I was told there were two people shooting.” He walked to the property and “encounter[ed] one of Clinton’s police officers coming out of the range in his police vehicle with a private citizen. … I thought the [2007] cease-and-desist order applied uniformly.”

LeBlanc asked for the meeting with Police Chief Mark Laverdure, “just to have a discussion,” he said. “I didn’t believe there was disciplinary action required.”

This is a half assed mea culpa, two selectmen meeting with the police chief without the rest of the BOS knowing anything about it and for a for a pretty long meeting, then asking him to order his men to not use the range is a bit more than a “DISCUSSION“. This borders on an abuse of power to get their self serving agenda item finished.

Of course there was no disciplinary action required, the police have always qualified there and should in perpetuity. that range is Clinton’s range and has been for 80 plus years. The chief is being put in the middle by this pair.

These selectmen should be finished, thrown out of office when their terms are up. We don’t need self serving, power abusing officials who have no clue what our real issues are. look no further than this…

…The state has said it would be cutting local aid again and this inept pair hasn’t even started looking at ways to save jobs…yes proactively looking at all options to save law enforcement, firefighters, DPW workers, school personel and non-union employees. Once again Clinton Selectmen are playing their fiddles while Clinton burns,  it’s just absolutely unbelievable and so damn amateurish!

Secret Meetings Update

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Once again the anti rifle range pair of Clinton Selectmen, Chair Mary Rose Dickhaut and James LeBlanc have shot off their mouths. This time is different though, In a meeting with Police Chief Mark Laverdure the pair without prior authorization or prior knowledge of the rest of the BOS summonsed the Chief to a meeting at Town Hall. During this meeting the pair asked the Chief to order his officers to stop shooting at the rifle range and find somewhere else to perform shooting qualifications.

This practice is not only unethical, inappropriate and likely illegal but also violated the other Selectmen’s rights to be a part of any policy decision regarding the Police Department. They are the Police Commissioners after all.

Dickhaut and LeBlanc have once again used their positions of power to try and politically manipulate the usage of the Clinton Rifle Range. This practice is an abuse of power and must be stopped immediately. These two Selectmen have done more to harm relations between the two towns and their police departments than any previous board ever has.

Lets see which Selectmen step up to the plate and support their Police Department and which ones are spineless jellyfish in the face of controversy! I suspect I know the answer and don’t look forward to writing about the 4-1 vote.

These two need to be voted out of office and are a total disgrace to the Town of Clinton. They  are individuals who have put their own agenda first and public safety last.

UPDATE:

Last night the BOS voted 3-2 to appeal the cease and desist order against the Clinton Police Department. I’d like to publically thank Selectmen William F.Connolly Jr, Kevin Haley and Kathy Sheridan for doing the right thing and trying to uphold the Town of Clinton’s right to use it’s property and for standing up for local Law Enforcement.


As for Lancaster, Town Administrator Orlando Pacheco who ordered their Building Inspector to issue the cease and desist, he certainly knows he works for the Selectmen doesn’t he! Actually by doing Dickhaut and LeBlanc’s bidding for them I would say he just doesn’t know which towns Selectmen he works for.  He unilaterally ordered the Inspector to issue the order without the Lancaster BOS knowledge or direction.
That’s a real nice way to foster employer-employee relations!

If I were on that board I wouldn’t tolerate an usurption of my duties and the further political and day to day friction it has caused between the parties involved.

Where is the leadership in Clinton

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I find it very interesting that the BOS hasn’t been meeting on their two week schedule that was always the norm once summer was over. Even through the summer months they only met a couple times.

I have a really strong feeling that a lot of the town’s business is being conducted in a sub-rosa manner. There are a couple events that have lead me to this conclusion but I’m not at liberty to reveal these or my sources.

In the past when I was on the BOS we publicly vetted any and all subjects, large and small in front of the camera in public session, this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Our once transparent local BOS has become more like looking through a an algae filled aquarium. “I think I see something, well, maybe not. I don’t see  discussion on subjects that effect us or our town going on anymore.

-What’s the status of the potential 4+ million dollar remediation of the leachate at the capped landfill?

-What’s going on with the Senior Center, we purchased the land and now what?

-How about water and sewer rates, it’s high time these are examined, before some future board inherits the need for a huge increase like when I was on the board. We inherited years of a lack of oversight and had to raise rates by a huge amount. This was unfair to both ratepayers and the then sitting board.

-Whats the year to date budget looking like, are we in good shape or just scraping by? Inquiring minds want to know.

I could go on and on but you get the picture, no information is forthcoming.

The state’s tax receipts are still falling month to month and there may be another cut to local aid, if so the BOS will be in reactive mode once again. Don’t you think Chairman Dickhaut would be working with the board to have a contingency plan in place if more budget cuts are needed? Maybe even meet with the Finance Committee to make sure the town is ready for what may transpire.

This BOS needs true leadership and to educate the citizens of Clinton on the issues that effect us now and will effect us in the future.

The need for transparency and the dissemination of information to the public is imperative if the citizens of Clinton are to be an informed electorate.  I guess that’s the key, they don’t want an informed electorate.

A quick thanks to DPW Super Chris McGown for putting down a skim coat of asphalt on Water St, it certainly makes driving it a lot easier, Thanks Chris!

A Second Chance

Monday, August 10th, 2009

I recently read with renewed interest an article that talked about a new plan being presented by Brady Sullivan to the Planning Board regarding the Lancaster Mills project. In the not so distant past we had the former chairman of the BOS, Kevin Haley, dismissing this proposal and badmouthing it. Hopefully this isn’t the case in today’s dire economic times. This project would represent somewhere in the vicinity of another $400,000 in tax revenue for our town.

Brady Sullivan have been very patient and I’m sure wasted a good sum of money on carrying charges such as heat, taxes, etc. I hope the Planning Board see’s the light as well. One member said he wouldn’t ever vote for it prompting the resignation of former chairman Phil Duffy.

The no way, no how attitude has to go, it’s time to look at all revenue sources. I also see that the disenters at Weetabix were shown the door. Chuck Marble and another senior management person have left. I wonder what that the means in terms of Weetabix’ previous unhappiness with the project, their viability and presence in Clinton’s future?

What I see here is a second chance for Clinton in getting needed boost in revenue and rebuilding a blighted old building. Clinton officials should take a long hard look at this and ultimately approve it for the good of the town. To not do so would be a travesty!

The Public Has Its Say

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

I’m certainly glad that I was wrong about people trying the old quorum call last night, although I believe that they’d have lost that request as there looked to be a quorum right until the end of Town Meeting.

I’m really happy that the voters of Clinton have spoken and decided that the BOS will now have to listen to them at their meetings whether they like it or not. I disagree with the number of times that was quoted by Mr. Haley about how many times the public was not allowed to speak,it was more like three times in a row. The current Chairman did it when she was in the same position five or six years back. I also disagree that people are allowed to speak about subjects that are being discussed, this doesn’t happen. I couldn’t go to a meeting and raise my hand to speak about something like the raising of trash sticker fees or an increase in water rates unless there was a public hearing being held.

So, by an overwhelming majority the article allowing public comment was passed and the people have regained their voice at the beginning of the meeting where it should be in my opinion.

I’d also like to commend Selectman Sheridan for making good on her position of giving the stipend the Selectmen receive to the Library, COA, Emergency Management and Health Board. This was the right thing to do, Some believe it should have been used to save a job which I don’t disagree with, but it wasn’t enough to do this.

It’s too bad the wind farm study lost by a vote or two as it would have been the start of a way to save the town $1,200,000 a year in energy costs. I believe that even without the $55,000 that the dynamic alternative energy group will find a way to make this happen…at least I hope so for our sake.

I Agree With Her

Monday, June 15th, 2009

At the last BOS meeting Selectman Sheridan pondered why the BOS was taking it’s stipend back. She said it should be used to help the Council on Aging. (I agree and my solution would have been to split it between the COA and the Library). I realize that to hold the office you need to be considered a town employee thereby you must accept pay, so how about a dollar a year?

I would surmise that it was Selectman Haley or LeBlanc that negotiated for adding this money back into the budget as they were the BOS bugdet Sub-Committee representatives. Selectman Haley is quoted as saying “The feeling was the selectmen should not work for nothing.” Once again we have a lack of leadership on the part of the BOS.  In these terrible fiscal times we need leadership by example, we didn’t get it.

Although Selectwoman Sheridan rightly questioned it the vote was 4-0 to approve the budget. (Not sure who was absent that night). I remember when I first ran for Selectman I didn’t even realize that you got paid. No one does this for the money or at least thats what I thought.

Here’s the newspaper account:

http://www.telegram.com/article/20090612/COULTER01/906120575/1189/coulter01

The Battle WAGES On

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Over on Clintonmass.com there’s a discussion going on regarding emergency services, this would include the Police and Fire. The discussion centers around the reductions in Police and Firefighter staffing and minimum staffing levels. Less Cops and Firefighters = lives lost says one poster.

I’ll say what I’ve been saying all along and it’s to the BOS, If they’d gone and negotiated a wage freeze many months ago with ALL EMPLOYEE’S…ALL meaning Unionized, Management, Administrative, Non-unionized in a word EVERYONE, with all on the same page, a wage freeze for all, no acceptations, jobs would saved for now. then see what the fiscal landscape is next year.  If this scenario  took place this discussion wouldn’t be happening!

Sure, that would mean reopening contracts but staffing wouldn’t suffer like it’s going to and folks would likely keep their jobs. Now it’s every man and woman for themselves, No one knows what the others deal is, are “Union A” getting a 3% increase while us in “Union B” we getting nothing? It’s pretty straight forward that a united front, straight talk and the same deal for ALL from the BOS is the correct answer. However not with the rudderless  reactive BOS we have now. In my opinion they are are suffering from “common sense paralysis”.  No ideas…accept from Selectman William Connolly who I will quote:

“I’m advocating for keeping as many town employees on the job as we can. I don’t care if they belong to unions or not. They need their jobs & we need the services they perform. I’m pretty comfortable with my ability to communicate with the unions. I think they know I’ll always tell them what I think even if its not what they want to hear”.

This is the straight talk and common sense we need from our executive branch of government, the rest of them aren’t worthy of reelection and deserve the door! We as a town deserve leadership and teamwork, people that can bring all our employee’s together and salvage jobs, this is what many would say call “Clinton Spirit”…Helping each other save their livelihoods and jobs, lending a hand in these trying times!!

Another poster who’s opinion I respect said:

“The current municipal finance system is broken. New growth is no longer enough to cover the annual increases in basic costs for the town’s budget.  This Town (and just about every other town in this state) needs to figure out a way to do things more efficiently and cheaper.  Everything but fear mongering should be on the table.”

I agree with this and wonder where our NEW Economic Director is? We need someone that’s a super-strong advocate in bringing jobs and grants to town…There are none you say! Well many companies who want to stay competitive would love to relocate to a facility that costs them much less, that said how many would move here into our empty buildings to save money. Certainly enough to help offset the lack of “new growth“.  And again our leaderless BOS is still sitting on this and should have filled the position as soon as was humanly possible, after Don Lowe’s departure. How many missed opportunites have passed us by? How many grant applications have we missed out on? This is completely unnaceptable.

So Whats The Plan?

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

As I detailed in my column in last weeks Times Courier, the budget process has continued in a haphazard fashion and without any real direction.

In typical reactive fashion, the Clinton Board of Selectmen showed a true lack of leadership while meeting with Clinton’s Union heads last night, May 27th. They made no real progress towards a FY10 wage freeze. The BOS of course did not meet and proactively discuss this  together as a team and come up with a unified plan they all agreed on. So with no clear plan or course of action to offer to the Unions this muddling around was doomed to failure. When you have a entire board, with all its members putting their own spin on what to do, how would you as a Union head react? I don’t blame the Unions at this point. No Cohesive Plan, No Deal!

My opinion is to offer the Unions a level wage for next fiscal year and to open the contracts and extend them another year, with next year and the year after coming in at the contracted percentage (I believe there is a year left on all the Union contracts).  The BOS in a last ditch effort to balance the budget have fumbled and are now on borrowed time trying to pull out of a death spin.

Whats next, close the Bigelow Library, cut the COA budget? Actually the non-unionized employees are at the mercy of the board and getting no increases. Why couldn’t the BOS have negotiated with the unions a long time ago WITH a plan…while there was time? Lots of questions NO answers, other than a complete lack of a plan and no capable leadership.