Monday, January 24, 2011

Legislature to People: Mind Your Own Business

Gerry Nutter just posted this too and I am glad he's as outraged as me.

Last week, the Legislature voted on a series of Republican measures designed to bring more transparency to the legislative process. Each one was common sense and in line with the 21st century. But our Legislature still thinks it's 1955 and can continue to hide things from the people. They're doing the best they can to make sure the people of Massachusetts don't stick their noses in the people's business.

Our local legislators, Sen. Barry Finegold and Rep. Colleen Garry, voted no on the following (note some of these were only proposed in one house)

1. Putting Committee Roll Call Votes on-line

2. Requiring roll call votes for tax increases (did not come up in Senate)

3. Equal representation on the Ethics Committee (did not come up in the Senate)

4. Giving legislators 24 hours to read legislation (did not come up in the Senate)

5. Limiting testimony time on legislation (did not come up in the Senate)

6. Passing annual resolutions letting cities and towns know the minimum amount of state aid they should receive so they can plan their budgets for Town Meetings (did not come up in the Senate)

7. Establishing a non-legislative commission to handle Redistricting (did not come up in the House)

You should read today's Sun to see why some people voted against these measures. For example, some said the current process of having people come to the State House to get committee roll calls is "sufficient and has worked well for years."

These people are living in another century.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Easier way

Warren Shaw often gives me a hard time for my long URL. It's now much easier to get to this site - just type www.dracutpolitics.com and you're here.

State Senate Numbers

Here are the financials (October 16-December 31, 2010) for the State Senate race between Barry Finegold and Jamison Tomasek.

Finegold:

Receipts: $39,150
Expenditures: $101,348.73 (he had $62,299.36 on hand)

Tomasek:

Receipts: $6,292.29
Expenditures: $10,670.04 (he had $5,187.92 on hand)

They both have some libalities: Finegold owes $15,510.81 in credit cards and Tomasek owes himself $7,500.

Finegold raised $4,350 from folks in Dracut, namely the Gorman family. Local politicos who donated to Finegold include Michael McLaughlin ($200), Ken Martin ($200), Mike McNamara ($100), Brian Bond ($100), Committee to Elect Gerald Surprenant ($75), Mae Paquete ($100), and the Committee to Elect John Zimini ($50).

Tomasek got no donations from Dracut (at least over $50).

The lack of support from the state GOP highlights concerns from many that the state party was only concerned with the governor's race and ignored everyone else.

Campaign Finance Reports

I happened to be on the Town Clerk's section of the town's website looking for something and discovered that they have posted the campaign finance reports of those who have run for local office. You can see it all here.

Nice work, as usual, to our amazing Clerk Kathy Graham.

If anyone from the clerk's office happens to read this, the link to Jim O'Loughlin's report is broken.

Running again?

Today's Column jumps on the rumor that former selectman James O'Loughlin is considering a comeback to the board. He told the Sun:

"You never say never but...You know, I don't even know when the dates are to take papers out." Later he also said, "I have no idea. I won't be making a comment on that."

He did tell the Sun that he has received "some encouragement" from folks in town.

For the record, nomination papers are available on February 1 and the signatures (50) must be returned to Town Hall by March 14.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Garry's numbers

The other day I posted the year-end financials for Matthew Sheehan and George Boag. State Rep. Colleen Garry has submitted her year-end report and it's much better, no surprise, than Sheehan's or Boag's.

As of December 31, 2010, Garry had $16,702.04 in her campaign account. Between October 16 and December 31, she raised $3,600 ($2,000 from the state Democratic party) and spent $8,120.82. Her expenses were on advertisement materials and a consultant: $7,120,82 to a website called campaignsthatwin.com and $1,000 to Michael McGovern of Lowell.

See the reports here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Library closing...again

The Library announced on Facebook that it's closing tonight at 5:30pm because of the weather.

They were closed last Wednesday because of the snow and yesterday because of the holiday. I was there today for a few hours correcting papers and tests, glad they were actually open.

Sigh.

State Rep. race numbers

Final financial reports for the 2010 election are due and state representative candidates George Boag and Matthew Sheehan have filed them. State Rep. Colleen Garry has until January 20 to file her report.

Anyway, Boag and Sheehan did not have any fundraising luck from October 16-December, the period covered by the report. Boag raised $260, all from himself whereas Sheehan only raised $50. Boag spent $450.59 on ads and supplies at Staples while Sheehan spent $1,959 on ads and signs.

As of December 31, Boag has $25.01 on hand, Sheehan has $187.20.

Friday, January 14, 2011

High school debate

Today's Lowell Sun discusses the town's plan to renovate Dracut High School. The total cost will be $61 million with the state paying 60% of the tab leaving the town responsible for $23-24 million. Town Manager Dennis Piendak is quoted as saying this would be the largest project in town history.

I would vote for this project despite the fact that it will raise our property taxes and we're still paying off other building projects, namely the library and police station. I also voted for the Town Hall override which failed.

The project must first pass Town Meeting (which it should overwhelmingly) and then be put to a vote. That may be tougher. My neighbor was upset that her property taxes went up this year and she may be a bell weather of other voters.

Anyway, see the whole article here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

O'Loughlin on civility and centrism

Gerry Nutter wrote the other day that Warren Shaw is hearing speculation that former Selectman James O'Loughlin is thinking of running again this May. It would make sense, then, that O'Loughlin has penned a couple of columns in the Sun recently calling for civility and a return to a higher level of statesmanship. Today he writes about how the level of debate in politics has gotten nasty since the days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill when the two political foes would be best friends after 5pm:

Somewhere along the way, the political jousting became more personal and lasted well past 6 p.m.

I can relate on a personal level. Having served for many years as a Dracut selectman, I saw the changes occurring. There was a time when I could debate an issue with my colleagues, and debate vigorously, and when the meeting ended we would always find time to share a drink, a few laughs, and a handshake. The debate was on the issues, not the individual. Just as a change was occurring on a national and state level, you could see the change on the local level. Debates were becoming more personal in nature.

O'Loughlin also calls for a rejection of political extremism...and then goes on to criticize mostly Republicans!

Anyway, perhaps O'Loughlin is trying to rehabilitate the perception of some that he got too negative and testy in recent years. Fair enough. However, if he is going to call for civility and a change in tone, he may not want to leave comments like the one he did on Gerry Nutter's blog. Gerry has since deleted the comment saying it wasn't O'Loughlin but others say it was him.

Either way, a man can change and perhaps O'Loughlin, if he does return to politics, will lead the charge for civil debate. Truth be told, however, things do seem a lot tamer in the past year or so on the Board of Selectmen and School Committee. Maybe we've already begun here in Dracut.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

SNOW DAY!

No school tomorrow in Dracut!

New DHS

I stumbled across a Facebook group today called "Committee for a New DHS." It says:

In the near future, people in the town of Dracut will be faced with a decision on making much needed improvements to our existing high school located at 1540 Lakeview Avenue.

Starting around Thanksgiving and through the holidays, I heard many people talk about the project and potential for serious and meaningful improvement within our school system.

With that, I am starting this page in the hopes to get people in town talking and prepared to work hard towards taking action.

Parents, Grandparents, business owners, elected officials, students alike can all be active participants in getting things done.

Information will be posted and updated often.

I look forward to seeing and helping develop an active dialog with anyone that joins our efforts!

Thanks
Joe

Sounds good to me. Check it out.