AllenN's blog

Thanks, DJ!

At almost the closing bell of the year, reader “DJActon” posted one of the most humorous responses to a column of mine (http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/economic-musings) that I have ever read. It was delightful. Thank you, DJ, and thanks for reading Acton Forum.

His letter really explains how “the other side” views the world, and it is a real eye-opener. You can read it directly here: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/economic-musings#comment-4008

Economic musings

There are lots of unanswerable questions about economics. The latest to bother me is the drop in the price of oil and the explanation that this is somehow hurting the economy and stock prices.

Boxboro's FinCom commits heresy

PART THREE ON ACTON'S SPECIAL TOWN MEETING

The Boxborough Finance Committee committed heresy last week, judging from one of their member’s quotes as reported by the Beacon in this week’s (12/3/15) issue.

Massages and rent control

Fiscal Conservatism 608

I was having my semi-monthly massage with a massage therapist who shall remain nameless. We have a good conversational friendship where we often talk politics. She tends to be very left (but not always) and I am the fiscal conservative who usually votes for Republicans. She is planning to vote for Hillary and I haven't focused too much on the other side but would rather cut off my leg than vote for Mrs. Clinton.

FinCom's four seconds of misconduct

(This is Part Two on Acton's Special Town Meeting (STM) of November 10, 2015 which approved two union contracts, articles four and five. Part one (http://www.actonforum.com/story/bos-gets-union-contract-costs-wrong-stm) focused on the actions of the Board of Selectmen. This article looks at FinCom's role.)

Interest, disinterest, and vested interest

Fiscal Conservatism 607

When public decisions are being made, there are (at least) three categories of participants as referenced in the article title.

Interested participants are people who have a small stake in the outcome. For example, a taxpayer would be an interested person when discussing tax policy. Yes, if taxes go up, they will pay more. But the increase to them personally on a tax matter would probably be a few dollars per year. They have an interest but they can make decisions unbiasedly.

Warrant article recommendations

I received the warrant for the special town meeting next week, and it has quite a few articles, including more land purchases, more steps towards redevelopment of Kelley’s Corner, and loads of other stuff.

For the insiders, I’m sure all this is business as usual. We have lots of money and we might as well spend it.

With taxes going up every year like clockwork, Acton is in no danger of losing our spot as the 15th highest property-tax town in the state. Yet with inflation at near zero, why do taxes keep going up? How come we can’t control our expenses?

Free stuff

Fiscal conservatism 606

I’ve read in several places this past week comments made by Jeb Bush that he won’t be a president who is going to be giving away “free stuff” in order to buy votes, in contrast to the Democratic presidential candidates who are trying to outbid each other as to how much free stuff they can promise their constituencies in order to buy their votes in the primary. (See http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2015/10/we-all-get-free...). The giveaways I’m sure will be even more dramatic in the general election.

Money Supply

Fiscal Conservatism 605

We are living in strange times, but perhaps these days, the new normal is strange.

The other day, I read that the big banks no longer want large quantities of cash. It costs them money to hold it, since interest rates are so low and they have more cash than they can lend. Companies are hoarding cash and have nowhere to put it other than the bank. With the economic uncertainty and the many negative federal policies, they don't want to hire workers or expand, so they stockpile their profits.

Two wrongs don't make a right

We all know that two wrongs don't make a right. You don't compound your error by repeating it, nor do you willfully make another error with the excuse of the first.

This lesson has been lost on many of our political leaders and voters. Here are three current examples.

Huber-O'Connell employment contract posted

The three-year employment agreement for Elizabeth Huber-O'Connell is now available on our website here: http://actonforum.com/sites/default/files/Huber_contract_2015.pdf

The contract was for the second year of a three-year employment agreement ending on June 30, 2016. Acton school contracts for administrators are typically for three years.

Anything wrong with a public employee making $500 per hour?

NOTE: FOURTH PAYSTUB RECEIVED. In response to the posted article below, ACTON FORUM has just received an email from Glenn Brand with a "corrected" paystub for May 14, which shows Huber-O'Connell received $18,236 in miscellaneous pay instead of $73k, bringing her "YTD" total to $67,473. Brand also explained that the Munis accounting system identifies "days" worked but calls them "hours" so the $492.89 would be the daily rate.

Bernie, can you spare a dime?

Fiscal Conservatism 604

Democratic Socialist (is that now a redundant phrase?) Bernie Sanders has come out with his proposal to spend $18 trillion over the next 10 years, which should surprise no one, except perhaps that it probably underestimates what he really wants to do. $18 trillion may be his attempt at being conservative, who knows. (For link, see http://www.wsj.com/articles/price-tag-of-bernie-sanders-proposals-18-tri...)

We hit fundraising goal in 24 hours!

Acton Forum ran a “crowd-funding” campaign to pay for the latest batch of documents from the School related to the departure of a top school administrator who continued to be paid for 10 months while apparently not working. Since the School would answer none of our reasonable questions, we had to request documents to figure out what was happening.

We need your help to pry the School open

Acton Forum has been doing a lengthy series on the departure of a long-time school employee and top administrator who left the School system last September but continued to be paid for the remainder of the school year, with potentially excessive payments of at least $100,000. We have tried to find out how and why this happened but have been stonewalled.

For a recent summary of where we are, see the last article on this topic: The Huber-O'Connell mystery, http://www.actonforum.com/story/huber-oconnell-mystery. We have more information coming soon.

Senior Center Study Committee implodes

I attended my first meeting of the Senior Center Study Committee (SCSC) this morning at the library, and witnessed a virtual implosion of the group.

I am following this issue because I spoke against the 2012 proposal at annual Town Meeting and was interested in following the new effort to see if the needs of seniors have changed enough to justify the expense of a new facility.

Odds of alien life

I am so excited that there will be a new Star Wars movie out in a few months. I saw a trailer recently with an aged Harrison Ford reprising his role as Hans Solo. It should be fun, probably campy, with lots of light-saber and spaceship action. I can't wait.

Hillary Clinton ticks me off

I'm getting very tired of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

Instead of acting like a candidate, she acts like a Queen who decides what questions to answer and how to answer them.

While having experience is a necessary prerequisite to running for president, being a First Lady and then using that "experience" to get a Senate seat and an appointment as Secretary of State is a nepotistic way to get ahead, and that should not be rewarded either.

Propoganda from the leadership

Let's pretend for a moment. Let's say the Selectmen (BOS) showed up on a Monday night for a hearing. Each of the five members had never been to a meeting before, or maybe had just watched a couple on TV. They were random Acton citizens picked out of the phone book (perhaps a virtual phone book.)

Minimum wage hikes will be counter-productive

Fiscal conservatism 603

Wouldn't it be nice if we could just suspend the laws of economics and reality and just declare everyone a millionaire?

Isn't it sad that so many people are burdened with having to pay bills? And what is even worse is that some people who work hard but are subject to the previous choices they have made make less money than others. That is just unfair, but we can fix that with a wave of our magic wand.

Selectmen defend Makaha harassment

The Makaha Chinese restaurant has had another hearing before Acton's Board of Selectmen (BOS) on July 20, 2015, with the threat of a license revocation hanging over their heads, but the BOS decided that no violation had occurred on a 4-0 vote. You can read about the underlying incident that happened on April 19, 2015, in an article called "Government abuse alive and well in Acton:" http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/government-abuse-alive-and-well-a....

Terrible Iranian nuclear deal

The Iranian nuclear deal is a terrible deal for the United States and the West.

Government abuse alive and well in Acton

The Makaha restaurant can’t catch a break in the town of Acton.

The Board of Selectmen (BOS) will be conducting yet another spurious hearing on the Makaha liquor license for an incident that happened last April, when a driver was pulled over and failed a field-sobriety test. The driver claims he was drinking at the Makaha from 7 to 9 pm and had four beers, according to the police report (he was pulled over at 8:30 pm, so something immediately doesn’t add up in that story.) The hearing will happen this Monday night, July 20, 2015, at Acton Town Hall during the regular BOS meeting.

Ripley's sponsors Acton's Special Town Meeting on August 4, 2015

Ripley's Believe it or Not, which runs a series of tourist attractions in major U.S. and international cities, has agreed to be the lead sponsor for Acton's Special Town Meeting on August 4, during the Dog Days of Summer.

Yes, believe it or not, Acton's selectmen have scheduled a town meeting when most residents are away on vacation. Those that are still in town are unlikely to be interested in dealing with town business.

Grecian obligations

Fiscal conservatism 602

I just returned from a trip to Italy, just a stone's throw from Greece, and kept up with the news on the EU-Greek bailout situation. Like our nuclear non-proliferation talks with the Iranians, the potential EU-Greek deal goal-line keeps moving as deadlines are missed, but the latest deadline appears to be this Sunday when the EU may decide to stop giving Greece more money without their (now broken-) promised economic reforms.