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Posts Tagged ‘selectmen’

BOS – Poor Performance

Friday, June 25th, 2010

What the heck is going on with the Clinton BOS? First they put an article on the Town Meeting warrant to make the Town Administrator (TA) a strong TA with the ability to hire, appoint and fire department heads (with an option for the BOS to reject within 15 days). So as explained at Town Meeting (TM) the department heads would have the ability to hire and fire with approval from the TA.

The BOS in an inexplicably bizarre move has voted 4-1 to relinquish the TA’s and it’s own duties and responsibilities and pay a HIRED, private consulting firm to recommend who to promote to Sargeant — Doing this instead of our elected town officials, the TA or the department head recommending the next Clinton Police Department’s sergeant is an abdication of their duties.  Come on — Paying to figure out which person to promote from within…

Selectman William Connolly, Jr, the only selectman to dissent seems to be the only one with common sense and the courage to not cave into letting this private firm select from a pool of internal candidates. He objected to the process and would prefer local officials do the hiring which is the correct mode of operation for town government.

Maybe we should just repeal the warrant article before it’s approved by the legislature. And yes, the selectmen do still have the power to allow the process to proceed the way it was outlined at TM without approval. They can assign this to the TA and ultimately to the appointing department head.  First meeting of the “new” board and the first botched policy decision, it’s going to be a long year with no leadership and business (or lack of business) as usual

While Rome Burns

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Here is a letter to the editor I just sent out to the Times-Courier, as readers of my Blog you get an advanced look.

To the Editor,

As a former Selectman who helped negotiate and subsequently signed the lease between the Town of Clinton and the Clinton Fish and Game Protective Association, Inc here’s my opinion on the recent motions made by Selectman James LeBlanc at the January 14th Board of Selectmen’s meeting and reported on in this newspaper.

In a nutshell, these motions were special interest driven and a waste of the boards’ time and energy. The lease itself is self explanatory and was completed and reviewed by our Town Solicitor. This is a public document and is available at the Town Hall or online at my website.

The lease says that the Lessee (Fish and Game Assn.) would have to obtain prior written permission from the Lessor (the Town) to build any buildings, not erect a sign. On the contrary is states in section 16 that the Lessee may at its discretion post the boundry lines of the property with signs at appropriate intervals indicating the use of said property for recreational activities such as hiking, hunting fishing, cross country skiing, target shooting, etc. The thing that really makes this so laughable is that the sign is at the entrance to the Clinton Rifle Range which is about a half a mile off S.Meadow Road in the middle of the woods. I guess Selectman Leblanc is worried that the wildlife referenced in section 9 of the lease, that resides there, may be offended. (Humor intended!) It’s ludicrous for the Selectman to be requesting a copy of the Fish and Game Protective Association’s (501) (c) (3) application as this is an IRS filing and not subject to town approval. Would Mr. LeBlanc like to give out a copy of his tax returns to the Fish and Game Association?

Honestly folks, don’t you think that the Board of Selectmen have a lot more to do in these fiscally trying times than worry about a sign in the middle of the woods situated in Lancaster? My suggestion would be to figure out a way to keep all the town departments such as the Police, Fire, DPW, School Department and all the rest operating without laying off our town employees and cutting back on essential services. I haven’t seen an original thought or suggestion as to how real fiscal restraint would be implemented in Clinton, only complaints about the Finance Committee by Selectman Maryrose Dickhaut. The Finance Committee is a board of professionals who are there to help, not to fight with her. Maybe if she and the Board of Selectmen approached the budget with the Finance Committee as team players instead of adversaries we’d all be better off.

In the end, certain self-serving Selectmen will keep at it to further their own agenda’s, ignoring the coming disaster Like Nero who played his fiddle while Rome burned.

Joseph P. Notaro, Jr.

The Annual Bloodsport Season Begins!

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Election Schedule:

February 9: First day to take out nomination papers
March 16: Last day to take out nomination papers
March 18: Nomination papers due at 5pm
March 27: Nominating caucus, if quorum (25) is met
April 1: Last day to withdraw from the ballot
April 14: Last day to register to vote in the town election
May 4: Election 7am to 8pm at Town Hall

So the dates have been set and published, now its time for the sport to begin. I’ve heard a few juicy rumors on the street but none have been substantiated yet. Of course I’ll be updating this blog with the latest news and rumors, but it’s a bit premature yet.

I see that the Times and Courier has an editorial about a previous School Committee race and that these two dedicated parents would be obvious candidates if interested. I would have to agree with them.

Many thanks to Bernice McGrail for her three decades of service to Clinton’s children, You’ll be missed!

Lets hope for some great candidates to step up to the plate and help guide Clinton through the tough fiscal times ahead. There will be decisions to be made that won’t be easy and should be made with compassion, intelligence and common sense.

Let the Games Begin!

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.

Tax increase for local businesses rammed through!

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

A headline in the Worcester Telegrams local section for today reads “Tax break restored for homes” It should have read Tax increase for local businesses rammed through! The present Board of Selectmen has decided to pander to homeowners (read voters) and give them a so called “tax break”. All they did for the homeowner (voter) was keep the increase from going up $91 on average to $81. That’s $2.50 per quarterly tax bill. WOW, now that really helps us out. “Selectman Mary Rose Dickhaut argued that because of the recession, homeowners should be given every possible break”. That politico talk sounds familiar; tax breaks for the middle class and a tax increase for the “rich”. Most local businesses (the “rich” who are being forced to pay more than their fair share) are barely scrapping by right now. The higher property tax split adds to the already high costs of doing business in Clinton and the State.

As a former Selectman 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. Apparently Selectman Anthony Fiorentino is the only one who gets it! He correctly contended that it was bad for economic development and that the savings to homeowners was insignificant. He favored following the trend of narrowing the split further, to 1.65%

Never mind courting new businesses, but how about our local businesses who will now pay more per year, and it won’t just be a tiny $2.50 per quarter increase. These folks will now have to deal with yet another added expense. Will this foolish economic move cause any businesses to go belly up? Will it cause any of them to lay folks off? The short answer to me is YES. In these troubled economic times our representatives should have looked at the big picture, and helped keep folks employed so they can pay their bills. I ponder how many folks this will affect, how many will not be able to actually pay their tax bills now, all due to the tax increase on businesses our short-sighted Board of Selectmen just passed.

Here are some statistics on split tax rates: 108 of 351 communities in Massachusetts have a split tax rate. Of that 108 only 44 communities were within 5% of the maximum shift. That’s where Clinton is now. I believe that next year the maximum split will be 1.70% and Clinton will be maxed out.

Clinton has fully returned the past where businesses were given the short end of the stick and now we’ll have to suffer the consequences of potential business failures and layoffs, beyond what the overall economy brings us. As the saying goes: “The voters get what they deserve” Well that’s what you got with this slate of “visually impaired” politicians! No vision as to the future of business in town at all.

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.

Town Administrator Round Two.

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I for one am glad the second Town Meeting of the year is over and town business can continue. Personally for me the second defeat in as many meeting of the incomplete, flawed town administrator article is behind us. I just cannot for the life of me understand why the current sitting board can’t get it through their heads that you can “put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig”. I’ve always wanted to use that line! I should have at Town Meeting but it could never top Bill Connolly’s YoYo comment, that was a classic!

Seriously though, the board should get their act together and come up with a “real” article similar to the one I put forth when I was still on the board. Compose it so that the powers and duties are properly delineated and fully vetted before the public. I mean “real” public hearings not an informational meeting like the Selectman had where only they could comment and then resubmit it, I would actually support it. (provided of course it had the accountability of the Selectmen’s approval of hires and appointments)

I still have a copy of the document if any one on the Board would like a copy as a starting point. It might save you a lot of editing. I’ll be waiting to hear back, but won’t be holding my breath. Email me at if you’re so inclined.

On another note I’m really happy that the voters saw fit to fund the article pertaining to CEMA’s request for a radio repeater.

No Public Comment – Citizens Silenced

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

While it’s my understanding that under MGL local boards don’t have to allow public comment, it’s certainly very unusual in nearly all communities in the Commonwealth to not do so.

I’ll put on my “Former Selectman’s” hat and tell you that in my three years on the board, public comment was never disallowed. Year one, Mark Elworthy was Chairman and to his credit he let anyone who came before the board talk. When they got off the subject at hand he’d call them on it. Year two had Mr. Mendoza as Chairman and he allowed public comment as well. Both of these Chairmen had public comment at the end of the meetings The third and final year Bob Pasquale was Chairman and he not only allowed public comment but moved it to the beginning of the Selectmens meeting so that citizens who came to speak wouldn’t have to sit through hours of business and would be able to have their voices heard.

Fast forward to the present. Chairman Kevin Haley first moved public comment back to the end of the meeting, then treated Gloria Parkinson rudely on a night she came to be heard on the pending Rauscher Farm closing.

What happened next is in my opinion the most ridiculous thing that could have been done. He let a proponent of the vindictive (self proclaimed at that) citizens petition to change the Fire Chief position to weak chief speak, as he was some sort of spokesman for it. This article wasn’t sponsored by the Selectmen and they had no need for a proponent to speak for it. (No one against it was given equal time!) This person called Bob Pasquale and I buffoons while speaking about the petition. Now I don’t really care if some ally of Chairman Haley called me a buffoon, I actually wear that as a badge of honor as I would characterize my thinking as polar opposite of Chairman Haley. The meeting came to the end and instead of public comment Chairman Haley asked for a motion to adjourn which was offered by Selectman Dickhaut. Under discussion Selectman Fiorentino asked when public comment was. Haley said there was none and the board voted 4-1 with Tony Fiorentino voting no.

This board had a golden opportunity that night, they could have voted not to adjourn and made a motion to allow public comment. But instead they went along with our tyrannical Chairman.

The latest is that Haley has an agenda item for the next meeting on July 16th to possibly do away with public comment altogether – or limit it at best.

I hope people turn out in droves to protest this Un-American act aimed at censoring “we the people”. I’d say Mr. Haley doesn’t want any people speaking during public comment that may happen to oppose his agenda. I also hope that for the good of Clinton that other three Selectmen have the common sense to not let this travesty happen.