Sunday, March 28, 2010

SelectWOMAN

I was surprised to learn a few weeks ago that Dracut has had TWO female selectmen in its over 300 year history - and those two were within the past 20 years.

Like Shawn, I think Cathy Richardson's entry in the selectman race has changed everything. Before I thought that George Malliaros and Jim O'Loughlin would win easily but I think many women will appreciate seeing one of their own on the ballot and vote for her. If she wants to win, Richardson needs to use her gender to her advantage. I know many will find that a step back for women's rights or whatever but she can make a solid case that females are grossly underrepresented in elected positions (Bonnie Elie and a few on the Library Board of Trustees are all I could think of). While she is certainly no outsider, she could argue that her election would be a small crack in the Boys Network.

Should be interesting.

Party kick-offs

Tis the season for campaign kick off parties and this week saw three of them - Brian Bond, Pete Wilde, and May Paquette.

May said her party was well attended whereas Pete Wilde mentioned on his Facebook campaign page that there weren't a lot of people at his (although he did say they left a ton of money). He also said he was "stunned" that no local Democrats showed up. I know he's had some beefs with the Democratic Town Committee - perhaps that played a role. He also mentioned on Facebook that he had resigned from the DTC.

Brian Bond posted some pictures of his party on his Facebook page and there looked like there was a decent crowd - about 50 or so that I could tell.

Little more than a month to go - stay tuned!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Paquette website

May Paquette, a candidate for School Committee, has launched a website. You can see it here.

Shaw's Say on Selectman Salaries

In his bi-weekly Valley Dispatch column this weekend, Warren Shaw makes the case for stipends and gas reimbursement for the Board of Selectmen. You may recall that Selectman John Zimini recently proposed eliminated all selectmen pay, an idea I agreed with as it would be a nice symbolic gesture for the selectmen to make during the Great Recession.

Shaw makes the case that cutting salaries will reduce the caliber of people running for office. Furthermore, they do a great deal of work and their stipend is a small compensation for the many hours they put in.

You can see it all here but below is his interesting conclusion:

In Arlington last year a similar attempt was made that drew this from self-employed Selectman Kevin Greeley: "I never took the job for the money, but I'm insulted when it's implied I'm not worth it."

And from former Billerica selectman and current Town Meeting member Ed Hurd, who pointed out that selectmen incur considerable costs throughout the year, including buying tickets to events, donating to charitable causes in town and travel. "If you make the average citizen pay to sit at the table, the only people who will want to sit at that table are special interests."

And this from a former Chelmsford official: "The board (selectmen) hasn't been the same since we cut the compensation." Think about it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Garry kick off

State Rep. Colleen Garry, who is will be facing a very tough re-election, is having an organizational meeting on April 15 at 7pm at the American Legion. Her campaign kick-off party is on May 2 at 1pm at the LoKai Restaurant.

That should put to bed the rumor that she will pull out of the primary at the last minute helping Bob Cox secure the nomination.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cox vs. Garry

The lead story in today's Column was about the primary election between Bob Cox and Colleen Garry. The Column was highlighting the friendships the two share, especially Cox's brother John for whom Garry worked! Garry said, "I am disappointed (Bob Cox) chose to run. It's going to put a lot of our mutual friends in a tough situation."

The Column also points out that Garry has held two parties at Cox's Coyle's Tavern in the past spending close fo $1,500.

On yesterday's "Saturday Morning Live" Warren Shaw said Cox is running because it's something he's always wanted to do and this seemed like a good year to do it (i.e. Scott Brown effect).

It should be fun...not for Garry...but for us bloggers, newspapers, and other political junkies!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bond and taxes

Today's Lowell Sun had a story on taxes owed to the city of Lowell and one of the businesses listed was Brian Bond's company, Bond Properties. Today Bond, a candidate for selectman, has said the story is false and he in fact has a credit with the city!

The paper will be running a correction tomorrow according to Bond.

May Paquette Announcement

May Paquette, candidate for School Committee, will be having a campaign kick off party on March 25 from 6pm-9pm over at the American Legion on Broadway.

Here's more about May:

I would like to announce my candidacy for one of the two seats on the Dracut School Committee. The next few years are going to be some of the most challenging years that our School System has ever faced. The School Committee will be choosing a new Superintendent, working on the reaccreditation of Dracut High School, dealing with extremely tight budget constraints, all while continuing to look at the School Building Assistance project for the high school.

It was an honor to have served on the Dracut School Committee from 1998 until 2007. During those years, I served on numerous subcommittees dealing with various school business issues. I was a member of the finance subcommittee, negotiated labor contracts with our various bargaining units and served as the School Committee representative on the Permanent Building Committee during the construction of the new Lakeview Junior High School and the renovation of the Englesby Intermediate School. I was serving on the Committee during our last accreditation and worked on the Feasibility Sub Committee that eventually evolved into our application to the School Building Assistance Bureau. I dealt with transportation issues, special education, food services, and budget preparation. I believe, if elected, that I will bring the most experience to the Board.

I hold a Masters Degree in Business Administration and I am certified as a School Business Administrator with the Massachusetts Department of Education. I currently work as a Financial Reporting Analyst for a large corporate firm.

With a new Superintendent coming on board shortly and the challenging fiscal times ahead, I believe that it is so important that we have a Board that will work together, can put the politics aside and make decisions that will always be in the best interest of our school system and our children. These coming years will entail a lot of hard work and perseverance and I believe that I have the necessary experience and financial background to tackle this challenge.
During my nine years on the board, I always performed my duties with the fairness and integrity that is deserving of this position. I never made a decision that, in my heart, I did not believe was in the best interest of the taxpayer and the children of Dracut. I always did my homework and prided myself on being well prepared and having all the necessary information to make a well informed and responsible decision. I always fought hard to make sure that our dollars were spent wisely and efficiently and that we were always fiscally responsible.

I care deeply about the education of our children. I am a graduate of Dracut High School as are my three children and with my first grandchild due to arrive any day now, I have a renewed interest in making sure that my children’s children receive the best education that we can offer.

It was an honor and a privilege to have served the Town of Dracut as a member of the School Committee. I ask for your support as I look forward to an opportunity to do so once again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wasn't me

Brian Bond, candidate for the Board of Selectman, sent a message out today denying any involvement in Selectman John Zimini's move to cut the pay and benefits for selectmen. Bond wrote:

I have read a couple of articles in the Sun recently regarding the Dracut Board of Selectmen receiving a travel expense account and a stipend. This past Sunday I read a piece in the Column section suggesting that my campaign had some role in Selectman Zimini’s motions to eliminate these perks. For the record, I had no role in Selectman Zimini making the motions. With that said, I am not sure what all the bother is about. If the other members of the Board of Selectmen would have done the right thing then there would be no issue. Instead of listening to Selectman Zimini and take in to consideration the great symbolic message the Board would be sending to our community, they decided to take offense to the motions and cast them as be politically motivated. This is what is wrong with the current Board. In one breath they state that the stipend and travel expense account is not a big issue and they could get along without it but with the next breath the state that without the stipend and travel expense account Dracut would not elicit high quality people to run for the Board. Talk about political double speak! It is clear that the current Board of Selectman is out of touch.

For the record, as a member of the Board of Selectmen I will not take the stipend, travel expense account or the medical insurance perk.

Sincerely,
Brian J Bond

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Don't forget...

One of the best weeks of the year is upon us - the Dracut Scholarship Foundation Telethon! Year after year, I am blown away by our little town coming together to raise thousands of dollars for our kids.

Michael Sancartier, DSF's president, was on with Warren Shaw yesterday on WCAP and he said their goal this year is $100,000. Last year, in the deep dark days of the Great Recession, they raised $114,000!

Congrats and good luck to all involved - this is just another example of Dracut being Dracut.

Shopping local

I did a lot of errands with my son yesterday and noticed that all of my stops were locally owned places.

First I headed to Lowell General for some blood work. Afterwards I went to Blanchette's Automotive for an oil change (although I did have to leave as I was far behind in the line and had an appointment to get to) and then took Kevin to a new gymnastics place in the Beaver Brook Mills. Called Flippin' Out Gymnastics, it's a fantastic place with a nice waiting area for parents and a huge gymnastics area for the kids. We were checking it out and will certainly sign him up for classes. As I was driving around, I was listening to WCAP, our local radio station. And, when I got home I read the local paper.

Later I got a haircut at Dracut Barber Shop on Lakeview Ave. and then headed to my gym, Cleveland Fitness, near the Mammoth Rd/Lakeview Ave. intersection. After the kid's naps, we took a ride to Tripoli's Bakery in Lawrence and then stopped at Market Basket for some things.

Every single one of these places is locally owned and operated, even Market Basket which of course is based out of Tewksbury. Like so many others, I think it's so important to support these local businesses and help them thrive.

Lots going on

Between two small children and busy times at work, my blogging has been light as of late. But luckily Shawn has picked up the slack and has done some great work the past few weeks.

As he points out, today's lead story in The Column is on Selectman John Zimini's proposal for selectmen to eliminate their compensation. This came on the heels of a Sun article that highlighted the gas reimbursement the selectmen receive (in addition to their health insurance). Some have seen Zimini's motion as politically motivated as he is a strong backer of Brian Bond, a candidate for selectman.

Perhaps but in the process, I think he has placed incumbents Jim O'Loughlin and George Malliaros in a tough situation. They can argue that it was politically motivated but the question remains - should the selectman make some financial concession? Granted their collective $15,000 or so is quite small but since every other town employee (save the teachers) made financial concessions last year, shouldn't the town fathers do the same simply out of solidarity?

I missed last week's selectmen's meeting when this came up but one name absent from the discussion, as The Column pointed out, is O'Loughlin. He wasn't quoted in Thursday's article and they said he could not be reached for comment. Malliaros, who is also up for re-election, was very vocal in his criticism of the motion.

Let the games begin!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Far Left

Yesterday, the House voted on a resolution by U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Mars) that would require President Obama to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. Only 65 Democrats voted for this but one of those 65 was our very own Rep. Niki Tsongas.

Um, doesn't Tsongas remember that with the exception of Lawrence and the western end of the district Scott Brown won big in January?

Tsongas tries to pretend she is moderate but she has consistently shown herself to be one of the more liberal members of the Massachusetts delegation. Too liberal to get re-elected in November? We shall see.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Zimini is right

In the grand scheme of things, a $3,000 stipend (salary plus gax expense) to each selectmen is just a drop in the bucket. But with the town facing a 5% cut in local aid, potential layoffs at the schools, I do think the selectman should have at least seconded Selectman John Zimini's motion to look into eliminating their pay and gas reimbursement.

No one questions that these guys work hard and give up a lot of their personal time and money. However, with the Great Recession still in high gear, it may have been a nice symbolic move by them to give up their salaries, etc. for the next year. They say that it's not a lot of money anyway so why not give it up as a sign of solidarity?

I think that Brian Bond, Cathy Richardson, and Pete Wilde now have a golden campaign issue to use against Selectmen James O'Loughlin and George Malliaros. Will it resonate? We shall see.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wrong party

When Willie Lantigua and Dave Abdoo were running for Mayor of Lawrence last year, Lantigua made a hateful, evil charge against Abdoo...he called him a Republican! Abdoo, a Democrat, defended himself as vigorously as if Lantigua called him the Grand Wizard of the KKK!

Now, if I was a conspiracy theorist, I would say that the Sun was playing a similar game in today's Column. In a piece about candidates to replace Sen. Susan Tucker, they called Dracut resident John Kelly a Republican. Kelly is president of IBEW Local 2325 and is originally from Medford. If he's a Republican than I weigh 160 lbs!

Let me be the first to issue a correction for the Sun - Kelly is a Democrat.

McNamara Party

Don't forget that School Committee member Mike McNamara will be having a campaign party today from 3pm-7pm over at O'Hara's.

Final shots

With Spencer Mullin in the rearview mirror (thank God), the Sun has some final shots at him in today's paper. First the Column said that before he left, the Sun tried to call him at home "after hours" (which, from what I hear, was like 3pm for Mullin) but his phone was disconnected. They also tried to call his cell phone but all they got was voicemail.

The editorial section also takes Mullin to task for the "unprofessional" way in which he left. You may recall that Mullin promised the School Committee over and over that he would work until the very end but he took the last three days off as vacation and personal days. He notified Chairman Matt Sheehan of this at 3:36pm and was long gone after that ensuring that Sheehan could not get in touch with him.

I heard Shawn Ashe say on WCAP yesterday that interim superintendent Elaine Espindle has already visited more schools in her few days back than Mullin did in his whole tenure.

What a disaster this guy was.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Moving on

With State Sen. Susan Tucker bowing out of public life, State Senate candidate John Kelly of Dracut is now the only declared candidate in the Democratic primary. There is talk, as I said earlier, that State Rep. Barry Finegold of Andover may jump in as well.

In the meantime, Kelly will be having a kick-off party on March 25 from 5:30pm-7:30pm over at Lenzi's. The suggested donation is $50.

From Sen. Tucker

Senator Sue Tucker

March 5, 2010

Dear Citizens of Andover, Dracut, Lawrence, and Tewksbury:

I am profoundly grateful to you for allowing me to serve as your State Senator for many years. It is a wonderful privilege to be of service to the communities and the people who put their trust in me. I especially thank my family, friends, and supporters who have given so much time and energy to my campaigns and shaping my public policies.

Whether you agreed or disagreed with my positions and votes on the hundreds of complicated issues that came before the State Senate this decade, I always listened carefully to both sides and then "called it like I saw it," regardless of party affiliation or special interests. Whether it was my vote against raising the sales tax or my vote for ethics reform, I always had the best interests of my district first and foremost.

Working as a team with so many of you in the district led to some terrific accomplishments, such as dramatically reducing the cost of auto insurance for all good drivers by kicking fraud out of the system, passing comprehensive legislation to reduce the foreclosure crisis, and preserving the Tewksbury State Hospital open space for generations to come.

Most of you know that I have been a tireless advocate for senior citizens to have the choice of remaining in their homes; for better schools; and for using quality management tools to make government more efficient and customer-friendly. Above all, I hate rip-offs whether public or private, and that is the reason I am working to keep predatory gambling out of the Commonwealth.

Together with my family, I decided that it is time for me to trade the long hours and rigors of public life for new opportunities, especially getting to know our new granddaughter.

Please remember that I will continue to work hard as your Senator until January, 2011. My priorities include local aid for the towns I represent; creating jobs, especially for the trades by converting the wonderful old mills into housing; and passing my Financial Literacy bill. Please visit my website, www.suetucker.org for more information.

I am always available at (617)722-1612 or susan.tucker@state.ma.us.

With warmest wishes and gratitude,

Senator Sue Tucker

State Senate shake up

The State Senate race just got interesting. The incumbent, Sen. Susan Tucker is not seeking re-election! That is huge and is just another in a long list of incumbents who are leaving Beacon Hill. Wow, who would have thought that a year after President Obama's election, he would be so toxic. This guy has imploded with major ramifications on the state and local levels.

Not only is a Dracut guy, John Kelly, running for the Democrat nomination but there is a Republican running, Jamison Tomasek from Andover. I also hear that Rep. Barry Finegold is thinking of running in the Democratic primary.

I met Tomasek a few weeks ago and he's a good guy with a good story. He, like so many, was sick and tired of the ways things are in this state and he felt like he should do something about it instead of staying on the sidelines. Tomasek is originally from the Midwest but moved here in 1982. He's passionate, down to Earth, and a regular guy, he'll be a formidable candidate.

This will be exciting.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Malliaros event

Selectman George Malliaros will be having a campaign party on Friday, March 19 from 7pm-11pm over at the American Legion on Broadway. Tickets are $10 and you can call Iris at 978-452-1363 or Mary at 978-453-0686 for tickets and more information.

Brian Bond Kick-off

Brian Bond, a candidate for selectman, will be having a campaign kick-off party on Friday, March 19 from 6pm-9pm at the Village Inn, 544 Broadway Road.