AllenN's blog

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.

PAYT Proposal is Premature

Acton Forum has had a series of articles recently on Pay As You Throw (PAYT). There is a public forum being held tomorrow to discuss this issue in more detail. (For more info on the forum, see http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/problem-payt#comment-3904).

In Acton, PAYT would only affect the users of the Transfer Station. Acton does not have "free" (i.e., paid by your taxes) curbside pickup, so people who don't hire a private service must make a trip to the Transfer Station to dispose of their trash.

The Seven Sisters of President Obama

I am very troubled by America's decline around the world. One of the hopes in electing the first half-Black president was that we would gain stature among both our friends and enemies for our "multiculturalism." America would truly be seen as the melting pot that it is, and some of that good-feeling would surely rub off in our international relationships.

Things certainly started out that way, but after a brief honeymoon and a Nobel Peace Prize, our standing has quickly deteriorated. This has been primarily because of a series of gross missteps by our Communicator-in-Chief.

The Problem with PAYT

Over the past few weeks, we've had several articles on the Pay As You Throw (PAYT) proposal, including a reader survey, articles by proponents and opponents, and several attempts at humor by me about this proposal.

PAYT would require that transfer-station users purchase special garbage bags to throw out their trash. The act of paying for each bag is expected to coerce most users into being more efficient about their recycling.

Green Sidewalks Initiative

Green Acton is pleased to announce its new “Green Sidewalks” initiative, to promote walking and physical fitness, to save the planet and reduce the use of global-warming fossil fuels.

“As a leader in 'green' thinking, and a charter member of 'Green Communities' in Massachusetts, Acton is committed to doing whatever it can to reduce its reliance on fossil-fuels,” said Ignatius Hoy, the liaison to Green Acton on the Bored of Selectmen. “We are always ahead of the curve, even taking risks that most communities would call irresponsible, if it saves a couple of drops of oil,” he said.

The Green Piece of Paper

Mr. Jones: a bigot, a homophobe, a racist, a planet-polluter, a global-warming denier, a hater; in other words, a Conservative, went to Acton Town Hall to ask a couple of questions. He got as far as the front entrance. There, he was met at a table near the entrance by three “Green Acton” members.

Learning from Personal Injury Lawyers

There is a group of professionals whose job it is to prove that alcohol-serving establishments have violated the law. No, it isn't our local Board of Selectmen. It is personal injury lawyers who specialize in representing people who have been injured by DUI drivers.

I did some Google research and found information posted by several Massachusetts personal-injury law firms. These firms make it their business to sue local bars and restaurants who have not followed the law and therefore are potentially liable for the actions of their inebriated patrons who drive and cause damage to others.

Lessons from the Makaha

The Makaha is a Chinese restaurant on Great Road and has been operating in Acton for 43 years. On January 12, 2015, the Acton Board of Selectmen (BoS) voted to revoke the Makaha's liquor license because of an incident that occurred this past November, as well as two or three incidents prior to that in the same year. The Makaha's legal recourse is to file an appeal with the ABCC (Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission) which it has done.

Regional School balks at ALG budget guidance

Last Thursday night (2/5/15), the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee (ABRSC) was planning on voting their budget for FY16. Once they vote the budget, they may make future reductions to it, but it cannot go higher. There was a preliminary budget voted on "Budget Saturday" (1/31/15) but since then, there have been several proposals to reducing spending, including a recommendation from the Acton Leadership Group (ALG) that the School cut spending by about $500,000.

Municipal Gross Wages for 2014 released

The Town of Acton released their 2014 Gross Wages list and Acton Forum has posted this information at its Links and Docs page.

Unlike in prior years, the list was provided as a PDF document and not an Excel file. So we are not going to be easily able to provide statistical information, although we have requested the Excel file as we have received in the past.

There are 28 town employees who made over $100,000 in 2014. This is one fewer person than last year.

What happened to Acton's school finance director?

If you find Clare Jeannotte, the school's Interim Finance Director, please call the school's Lost and Found department.

I haven't met Clare, but I got a call last week from someone who claimed to be her. She called to apologize about some incorrect calculations that appeared in a budget presentation given to the School Committee.

But now I'm beginning to realize that I spoke with someone else and not the school's financial whiz. How some imposter managed to pull this off may be an unsolvable mystery, at least until Clare is returned safely to her school office.

Bob "The Hog" DeLeo and our local state reps' support

Bob "The Hog" DeLeo just pulled off a major personal and professional coup at the Massachusetts State House, with the help of our two local Acton state reps, Cory Atkins (D-Lemmings) and Jennifer Benson (D-Sheeple).

Great job, team! Way to go!

BOS uses bad data to convict Makaha of overserving

I have spent much of the last few days researching the Makaha restaurant liquor license revocation and have discovered something very startling. But before I get into the specifics, a few points.