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Posts Tagged ‘BOS’

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 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.

Where's Weeksie?

Monday, April 27th, 2009

In a blatant show of disrespect for the voters of Clinton, Robert Weeks, candidate for the Clinton Board of Selectmen didn’t show up for candidates night  as I predicted a month or so ago.  The reasons for this are very simple, his handlers, Kevin Haley, Maryrose Dickhaut and the rest believe that you loose far less votes by not showing up and feigning a prior engagement, illness or lame excuse  instead of actually showing up and being made out to be a complete ignoramus. Bill Connolly would have eaten Weeks alive as he has excellent knowledge of the issues that face Clinton.

As good old Honest Abe said: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. Well myself and others aren’t easily fooled, Mr. Weeks DOES NOT deserve a place in Clinton’s Town government.

My highest praise goes  to all the candidates that did show up for for candidates night. All the school committee candidates  showed up as well as three of the five assessors candidates.

I’m focused on the Selectman’s race and have to say that Bill Connolly was the hands down winner. Clifford Blake did answer some questions, but I nearly died when he started reading answers from his candidates profile and the other very general statement he keeps posting online at the different forums.

I also thought it was in poor taste for him to leave as soon as he was done and not display the courtesy of staying and listening to the other candidates that listened to him.

Please Vote Connolly May 4th

Boltons Gain – Our Loss

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Thanks in no small part to the Clinton Board of Selectmen and especially to Maryrose Dickhaut’s verbalization of her total lack of support for funding the office of Community and Economic Development, Don Lowe has taken the opportunity to apply for and be selected as Town Administrator for Bolton, Ma.

Don was always a gentleman to work with, and I wish him the best in his new position. I know he’ll thrive and Bolton will be all the better for it. They made a good choice.

As for Clinton, Don didn’t apply for the job in Bolton when it was first advertised as he was working on some projects here in Clinton. When the job was re advertised I believe it was after he had his “budget talk” with the Clinton Board of Selectmen. Dickhaut basically stated that the Office of Community and Economic Development is a burden that should not be funded. This is one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard. Really penny wise and pound foolish.

Mr. Lowe has in his tenure applied for and been responsible for the Town of Clinton receiving more than seven million dollars in grants for items ranging from infrastructure improvements including roads, sidewalks, water and sewer lines etc and of course the open space grant for the Rauscher Farm property. This is just one facet of that office. It has been instrumental in bringing businesses to Clinton, (just look as far as Scholastic Books) and retaining those that we have.

To even hint at the fact Clinton doesn’t need this function is so shortsighted and lacking in forward thinking I cannot comprehend how anyone could broach an idea so ridiculous and dangerous to our economic well being.

Ladies and Gentlemen, when your taxes are through the roof and downtown Clinton looks like a ghost town, you’ll know why, and who caused this to happen. It’ll be interesting to see if they fill the position, and if they do, who the worldwide search will find “right under our noses” to fill it.

Do people “get it” yet?  We have lost and are loosing some really good people in our town government. Tony Fiorentino has had enough, Phil Duffy called it quits and Don Lowe is leaving for a more stable job, one where he was wanted. The return to the past in our town government is what is doing it.  We’ll be lucky to find any foward thinking candidates that want to bother to serve.

Tax increase for local businesses rammed through – part 2

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Having just read the Times & Courier articles pertaining to the Master Plan and the Chamber of Commerce’s comments on the rate split I decided to weight in once again.

Selectman Fiorentino was quoted in the Times & Courier as having said “ A reduction in the commercial-industrial tax rate would be a critical component of the plan.  I can confidently tell you that the most influential impact a town can have on business attraction and retention is reducing the commercial-industrial tax rate in order to assure that our towns tax policy does not act as an impediment to desired economic growth, he said. This is a key recommendation of the economic development element of the master plan”.

As I said in the previous article “I know that to effect commercial development and to entice job producing businesses to locate here, you must lower this split, we did so twice and it directly enabled the Scholastic Books Corporation to locate here, as Clinton was then perceived as being business friendly”. I don’t understand for the life of me why the BOS would take an action like this that could harm the businesses we do have left here. Don’t they understand that a fundamental job of the BOS is to do what’s in the citizen’s best interests? Doesn’t this apply to the commercial and industrial businesses involved? This is the actual economic engine that helps drive our town. Does it really make economic sense to penalize our local employers and make them pay more?

Maegen McCaffrey, Wachusett Chamber’s Executive Director, said “Clinton’s split rate gives an impression of a less friendly business environment” with which I agree. She also said that “of the eight Chamber towns — Berlin, Bolton, Boylston, Clinton, Harvard, Lancaster, Sterling and West Boylston — the only one with a split tax rate is Clinton”. Selectman Dickhaut took her to task for saying that.

She credited Clinton officials for continuing to decrease the business tax shift over the past three fiscal years: in fiscal 2008, the commercial-industrial-personal property shift was 1.68, while it was at 1.70 in fiscal 2007 and 1.87 in fiscal 2006. “I do think selectmen are taking steps in the right direction. I would like to see that momentum continue. If they continue to decrease it, that makes me happy. That’s a step in the right direction,” she said.  Well folks, I guess they didn’t make Maegen happy, that’s the end of that ride, this current business unfriendly board is willing to risk our economic base complete with jobs to give you and I a reduction of $2.50 per quarterly tax bill, what a joke. I’d forego the $2.50 to help to keep even one of my neighbors from losing a job.

New Projects Need Not Apply.

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

The withdrawal of the Brady Sullivan proposal for 160,000 SF of Commercial space and 139 condominiums at Lancaster Mills last night was another resultant blunder caused by the lack of forward thinking on the part of Town Agencies. I do applaud the few on the Planning Board who worked with Brady-Sullivan to compromise and come up with a workable plan only to be scuttled by the last minute protestations of Weetabix and members of the Clinton Board of Selectmen.

When officials start crying about the lack of tax revenue, please remember that Chairman Kevin Haley and Selectman Maryrose Dickhaut spoke out publicly against this project.  Haley went as far as to characterize it as “19th century style mill housing”, sounds like he’s been reading too many Charles Dickens novels.  Dickhaut warned it could end up like Oxford Court which was endorsed and developed during her watch. Also remember that when Weetabix does eventually move out of Clinton, which I believe they will do as they have already used the threat, that Clinton could have had a historically significant building revitalized, The intersection at Green and Chestnut streets re-engineered and jobs created within the commercial section of  the project.  Instead we’ll probably end up with another razed building and an area that looks like Baghdad after a carpet bombing, just like the former Rockbestos property and a possibly empty building where Weetabix was. Instead of a glass half full we’ll have an empty vessel. Par for the course I reckon!

As a side note: I’ll even bet that when the Selectmen set the tax rate this year that they’ll change the commercial-residential split to return us to our previous industry unfriendly former ways.

Yet Another (Potential) Lost Opportunity For Clinton

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

At the October 22nd  Clinton Selectman’s meeting there was a discussion centered around the venerable Lancaster Mills building on Green street. This is the former Bigelow Brothers mill and was the first horizontal manufacturing location in the U.S. during the industrial revolution. This was later the location of the Colonial Press. Note that I personally prefer to (1) keep the Mill’s exterior as is, to preserve the historical significance of this building and (2) move forward with the planned project. (My Opinion!)

During this discussion, Selectman Fiorentino very succinctly described the reasons the Brady Sullivan proposal should be allowed to go forward only to be rebutted by Chairman Haley and Selectman Dickhaut. The fact Clinton needs to attract Industrial and Commercial businesses, jobs and the revenue they bring with them is the point here. As Fiorentino pointed out, and I agree, A total commercial-industrial complex would be best, but given the fact that Brady Sullivan has done a nationwide search for a tenant and can’t find one makes the 139 unit condo plus 160,000 sf commercial space desirable. This is absolutely a great mixed use compromise solution for this site.

I personally wrote a letter of support for this project to the Planning Board and am sure it will fall on deaf ears. Weetabix has protested claiming it would put them in violation of the Bio-terrorism act of 2002 which I read and found nothing to prohibit the Brady Sullivan proposal. In fact Brady Sullivan agreed to Weetabix’ demand that they remove 24 condo units facing their warehouse, then at the very next hearing dropped the bomb that they may just move their operation to Canada if this goes forward. Veiled threat? possibly. They may already have decided to do this and want an out.

Haley stated he doesn’t care if the building is torn down and doesn’t seem to care about the historical significance or the infusion of badly needed revenue for the town. Dickhaut cautioned that Oxford Court is a perfect example of what would happen there with the town realizing no revenue…I’m at a loss here, as Dickhaut was a sitting Selectman when Oxford Court was siting their complex on High Street and the Board willingly signed over use of the public Church street parking lot to them when we already didn’t have enough parking for downtown businesses.

Selectman Dickhaut also stated we don’t need any more housing of this type in town, this is after endorsing the building of, and working for the Woodlands complex which will be 493 units when complete.  Sheridan commented that the mill could be razed and/or used for assisted living for the elderly. While a nice thought, it would likely be revenue neutral as the Corcoran house is. They had a TIF which had to renewed while I was on the BOS to help refinance, as they were in a financial pickle even though full with tenants. Brady-Sullivan isn’t an assisted living developer, and they own this property so it’d be their call.

My conclusion is that this project should be givin the green light by the Planning Board, the plusses outweight the minuses with Brady Sullivan willing to pay to fix the intersection of Green and Chestnut streets, landscape and clean up the land across the street from their building all the way to the top of Chestnut hill and have compromised on the number of units dropping the number at least twice while increasing the commercial component of the project. If this plan is rejected we all lose…yet again.

Contradictions and PuPu Platers

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

At the July 16th meeting of the Clinton Board of Selectmen some contradictory events unfolded. That night the new position of “Administrative Assistant” which has replaced the former Selectmen’s Secretary Position was appointed. The BOS seemed to have vested their power to interview or put forth one name for consideration with the Town Administrator.

Now here’s where the contradictions start, the same board that vested its power in the Town Administrator to pick an Administrative Assistant decided that night it wanted reports from all departments every month so they can manage and monitor sick leave and vacation time for town employees. I certainly don’t understand the logic being used here; the Town Administrator and department heads supervise the departments in their charge and monitor sick leave and vacation time themselves. This is what department heads are paid to do. Why has the BOS decided to micromanage the supervisors it purportedly “trusts”?

This is the very same board that wants you to come to the Special Town Meeting and vote to give them the unilateral power to assign (and remove) power to the Town Administrator while at the very same time micromanaging sick leave and vacation time. This very same BOS wants to be able to vest (and conversley remove ) powers and duties in a Strong Town Administrator (Although we have absolutely no idea what the powers and duties are going to be, as none have ever been listed , published or discussed publicly). The hypocrisy flies in the face of common sense. It’s OK for the Town Administrator and potentially for department heads to hire and fire but not to administer sick leave and vacation time? This BOS really needs to figure out what the heck it wants to be when it grows up, an actual policy making board or the Board of Micromanagement…I did hear Chairman Haley mumble something about the Fire Chief during discussion about this motion though, Hmmmm…

Without a warrant article that actually spells out what the BOS want to do with the position of Town Administrator (As the failed charter did in 2005) I would never vote to give them the power to petition the legislature for a completely generic article to assign as many or as few of their duties as they decide to, not what you the citizen want. This is an al a carte solution which would change from year to year depending on who runs the BOS. It creates a veritable mish-mash of responsibilities. (Bill Connolly called it the PuPu Platter approach, very good description!)

Example: Its 2008, The chairman and board decide the Town Administrator can hire the dog officer this year, Now it’s 2009, with a new chairman who decides there will be no hiring of the dog officer this year, but the Town Administrator gets to hire the DPW superintendent. Wait, it’s 2010, another new chairman and new board and they don’t want the Town Administrator doing any hiring. This scenario is inevitably what will happen, is this churn what you the citizen would want from your local government? I really hope not as it would take another act of the Legislature to reverse this ridiculous warrant article. Vote NO on this article, Hold the BOS accountable for their actions, Make them spell out exactly what they are going to change, don’t give them the power to pick and choose like a person at a buffet table!

In the end it’s YOU the citizen that should be making these decisions, either through a Charter process or a Town Meeting vote that has ACTUAL DETAILS.