AllenN's blog

300 people can't be wrong

Did you see the movie 300? I’d recommend it. It was an historical movie about ancient Athens and Sparta, where 300 Spartans held off an attack at a pass against an insurmountable and overwhelming foe. They knew they would all die, but it was done to protect their families and their courage in battle ended up uniting Greece which was the only way for the Greeks to win the larger war.

Open Letter to the AB Regional School Committee

Dear Chairwoman Rychlik and the A-B Regional School Committee:

As you may know, Acton Forum is a community website that offers news and commentary on local Acton issues. Our website is located at http://www.ActonForum.com.

Open Letter to Acton's Finance Committee

Dear Chairman Majors and the Acton Finance Committee:

Welcome to the new members and a new fiscal year.

Lions and zebras

Fiscal conservatism 601

School defies Supervisor of Records, refuses to produce index without $245 fee

The Acton-Boxborough Regional School District is now playing games with the freedom of information laws in Massachusetts by refusing to follow the clear instructions of the Secretary of State's Public Records Division after the Division's Supervisor of Records ordered the release of certain documents, an index to all the documents responsive to the request, and a revision of the original fee estimate.

Humans versus Animals

No, this isn't the title of a new reality show on TV.

As my regular readers know, logic is important to me. And something has been bothering me about global warming that I finally spent some time trying to figure out, and this article is the result.

Isn't it wonderful to be living at a time of such a great leap forward in humanity's scientific evolution? One could argue that our most recent inventions have proven that we have evolved into a species that has (or will) achieve its full potential.

Government monopolies

Fiscal conservatism 503

This is the third part in my mini-series on waste and government monopolies.

In the first part (http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/being-paid-watch-tv), I discussed what is government waste. Wasteful spending is paying workers to perform jobs that are not needed, or to perform services inefficiently, or to pay more in salaries and benefits than necessary to perform the work.

Makaha wins appeal

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) issued a ruling on May 22 overturning the Acton Board of Selectmen's (BOS) decision to revoke the Makaha's liquor license.

The BOS held a hearing in early January based on an incident in November, 2014. This hearing was the third time in a year that the Makaha had been before the BOS. The first time resulted in a fine and the second a short suspension. This third hearing had the BOS voting 5-0 that an "over service" violation had occurred and 3-2 to revoke the restaurant's liquor license.

Government versus private wasteful spending

Fiscal conservatism 502

Government waste and monopolies, part 2

Last article, I gave an example of government waste: paying people to do nothing. Most people would agree that this is a complete waste of money. See http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/being-paid-watch-tv.

How can "money" be wasted? It doesn't get burned up, and it doesn't disappear. So what is wasteful? Wasteful public spending is paying people to do unnecessary jobs.

Being paid to watch TV

Fiscal Conservatism 501

Government Waste and Monopolies (Part 1)

What is government waste?

Let’s say the government hires some guy to sit at a desk and watch television all day. Is that wasteful spending or not?

Four-story buildings proposed for Kelley's Corner

The Kelley's Corner Steering Committee and their consultants, the Cecil Group, CPI, and Byrne McKinney, are recommending that new zoning regulations be adopted to allow buildings up to four-stories or 45-feet high in the "Kelley's Corner" zone, according to the "Recommendations and Decisions" document presented at a public forum held May 7, 2015.

You can see the document here: http://doc.acton-ma.gov/dsweb/Get/Document-49901/Kelleys%20Corner%20Draf...

Town of Acton swings and misses at Makaha

Acton’s Board of Selectmen (BOS) voted in January, 2015 to revoke the liquor license of the Makaha restaurant, a Chinese restaurant that has been operating on Great Road in Acton for about 40 years. Losing a liquor license is a serious financial blow for any restaurant, so the Makaha hired an attorney and appealed to the BOS for a temporary reprieve until the appeal could be heard by the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC). In February, the BOS agreed to suspend their revocation until the ABCC issued a final ruling.

Freedom - part two

Fiscal Conservatism 404

Here is the strange case of Reima Kuisla.

Reima Kuisla lives in Finland and recently got stopped there for speeding.

Like a few other countries, Finland has speeding fines which progress upwards based upon one's income. The concept is that if one commits an infraction, the penalty should be progressively severe to inflict the same relative pain regardless of personal income. Otherwise, rich people can just laugh off things like speeding tickets and fines.

Freedom - part one

Fiscal Conservatism 403

The word free is great, isn’t it? It sounds so wonderful. Who doesn’t want to be free? Who doesn’t want things for free?

Freedom is the state of being free. If we lived on a Pacific island where it was 75 degrees year-round, we could all run around naked, eat pineapples, and perhaps live free of government control over our lives. I’m sure there are some people who do actually chuck everything and move to Fiji to look for that lifestyle. Most of us are too entrenched in our society to leave and some of us aren’t big fans of pineapple.

Blanchard enrollment forces a vote on accepting choice students

School enrollment is down and class sizes are being lowered in the AB School system.

But the decrease in spending is not commensurate with the decline in enrollment. Instead, school spending is up over 4% next year when inflation is around 1%. What gives?

The schools tell you that with a smaller student body, state aid also decreases a bit. And lower class sizes have long been a goal of starry-eyed school committee members for years. So for them, it's all good.

Board of Selectmen escalate Makaha harassment

This is beginning to sound like a soap opera.

Once again, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) is calling the Makaha to a hearing regarding another alleged incident involving "over-service" of alcohol. Except that there was no "over-service" whatsoever. The patron had just a sip or two of a single drink. Still, that apparently doesn't stop the BOS from their threats and harassment, this time suggesting that this latest incident may cause the Makaha's liquor license to be revoked again.

Another Obama foreign policy failure

I’ve been upset by the nuclear non-proliferation negotiations we’ve been having with Iran. The goal is actually fine: prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons through negotiations and diplomacy, rather than the use of force. Obama made the right call to try to resolve this peacefully instead of bombing Iran as a first-response.

The benign dictatorship

The recent evidence that Acton residents are getting disengaged from local politics is piling up. And while there are probably several causes for this, I can think of a few that our town leaders should address.

Unfortunately, many of them don't see that there is a problem. Having uncontested races for major town elections, getting 4% voter turnout at elections, and having less than a couple hundred voters making decisions at Town Meeting are not urgent warning signs to them, but instead are evidence that things are going well!

Small but vocal

Acton has what appears to be a small but vocal “green” community that can count on its members to come out to vote at Town Meeting but which doesn’t appear to be enjoying the support of the majority of residents.

Bobbie's Corner

The Kelly’s Corner reconstruction project is nearing completion, with just one very small part remaining, according to Tom Bosley (no relation to the actor).

"We have had 10 phases to this project so far, with countless studies, forums, design-reviews, consultants, websites, signage, and other creative wastes of time and money," Bosley said.

After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on surveys to gauge public opinion, it was determined that the public was largely apathetic. So the project moved to Phase Eleven, which is “how do we solve the traffic problem?”

What does self-reliance mean?

Fiscal Conservatism 402

In my series on what it means to be a fiscal conservative, I am trying to explain the thinking behind my beliefs. I am doing this to educate others so they get an insight into the 'fiscal conservative' mind. As much as our philosophical opponents want to demean us as "tea baggers" or "wing nuts" or whatever the slur du jour is, I hope that I am presenting logical arguments that will make people think more before they start calling us names.

Progressive tax rates not for Massachusetts

Acton's State Senator Jamie Eldridge is proposing a Constitutional amendment to eliminate the Massachusetts requirement that the tax rate be flat.

The income tax rate is currently at 5.15%. It was "temporarily" raised above 5% years ago and despite a majority of votes at the ballot box, it continues to remain higher than it is supposed to be, because of the insatiable need the state has to generate more tax revenue so it can continue to redistribute income.

Boxborough home prices up 23%

Home prices in Boxborough jumped over 23% from 2013 to 2014, based on data from the Realtor's Multiple Listing Service for single-family homes.

The median Boxborough home sale price in 2013 was $509,272 and in 2014 it increased to $627,233. This was an increase of 23.16% based on 35 home sales over the year.

In neighboring Acton, which shares a fully regionalized school system with Boxborough, home prices also increased but not as dramatically. The 2013 median sale price in Acton was $517,330 and it increased to $562,303, for an 8.7% increase.

Jamie Eldridge and I go car shopping

We are going to time-travel several years into the future when I am going to go to a local car dealer to buy a new car.*(1) Accompanying me for advice and carrying a briefcase full of cash is State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Beijing). I wasn't sure why he wanted to tag along so badly, but I'm happy for the company because I have no other friends.*(2)

Sen. Eldridge lies about the need for more tax revenue

Citizen for Limited Taxation (CLT), the group that put a cap on Massachusetts property tax increases of 2.5% per year, is warning that there is yet another proposal to change Massachusetts' state income tax from a flat rate to a graduated rate. This proposal has been defeated by voters several times in the past, most recently in 1994. Because a flat tax is in the Massachusetts Constitution, tax-and-spenders need to get the majority of voters' approval to amend it.