Monday, May 27, 2013
Fred Sozio, Korean War Veteran, was the parade marshal. He received a long and loud applause when Will Rogers, American Legion Commander, introduced him. Everyone also welcomed US Navy Captain (Retired) Barbara Knight, Patricia DeConto (whose son, Capt. Gerald DeConto, was killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001), and Jane Ellis, who sang God Bless America.
Police Chief Peter Wack gave a stirring reminder of the people who we should keep in our thoughts and prayers on Memorial Day, including first responders who gave their lives assisting others.
Lt. Travis Andrade spoke about the fundamental reason we engage in military action: To preserve our freedoms, not to destroy our enemies. He provided many current and historical references to bolster his points and delivered his address impeccably.
PFC LaRiviera of the Nicholas Xiarhos Young Marines led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Sandwich High School Chorus sang a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
The bell tolled for all of our Town of Sandwich veterans who passed away since last year's Memorial Day Commemoration. Wreaths were laid, 21-gun salutes honored the dead, and Taps was played by bugler Robbi Laak.
My speech follows:
My sincerest thank you goes out to the members of the American Legion Post 188 who coordinate this Memorial Day Parade and Commemoration. This event is a symbol of their allegiance to our fallen troops, many of whom have been relatives, friends and acquaintances of the legionnaires who are here today.
In Massachusetts, the fight to be an independent country goes back to the shot heard ‘round the world. The Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought on April 19, 1775, more than a year before our declaration of independence. Four days later, the 6th Massachusetts Regiment was formed and later joined by militias and armies from across the thirteen colonies to shed British rule and give birth to the United States of America.
We gather on this day to pay tribute to the 25,000 people who lost their lives in the Revolutionary War;
to the 15,000 in the War of 1812;
to the 625,000 in the Civil War—some say many more and it is the war that inspired Memorial Day;
to the 117,000 in World War I;
to the 405,000 in World War II;
to the 37,000 in the Korean War;
to the 58,000 in the Vietnam War;
to the 2,000 in Afghanistan;
to the 4,500 in Iraq;
and to the 33,000 others who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our country in numerous other conflicts since the birth of this nation.
Every one of those 1,300,000 brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guardsmen, and merchant marines left grieving families and friends who knew them for who they were and what they stood for. They were casualties of war, yes. They were counted and logged, yes. But they were not statistics.
No, they were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. They were people who had their futures cut short because they put themselves in harm’s way to defend our way of life. Our freedoms. Our liberty.
It is in honor and memory of these brave souls that we take time out of our busy schedules to honor our dead on Memorial Day. And it is fitting that we follow these somber moments of commemoration with fellowship, food, drink, and family activities. Just keep in mind those who gave their all to ensure that we keep these freedoms.
I will conclude with a short poem entitled “No Need To Fear.”
There is no need to fear for me,
For it is my will and my duty to serve.
I will always carry your love with me,
As it helps steady my nerve.
There is no need to fear for me,
For even if I shall not return,
On that day I will meet Him.
His grace and forgiveness I will earn.
There is no need to fear for me,
For this is my calling and my choice.
I rise to protect our freedoms
And give Liberty her voice. – Randy Hunt 2013
Thank you for being here today. God bless our troops and God bless America.
Photos by Gerry Nye, Town Constable
Monday, April 29, 2013
I invite everyone to weigh in on any of the 26 articles comprising our 2013 Sandwich Annual Town Meeting warrant--meeting to take place at the high school on Monday, May 6th--and the one article on Tuesday night's Special Town Meeting warrant, a debt exclusion request for the proposed public safety building and fire substation.
What's likely to consume most of our time are the following articles:
Article 14 - Recommended Town Charter Revisions - For my take on this, click here. Other than changing the town clerk to an appointed position, I don't have much to offer on this article. Some people are a little worked up about the library trustee changes.
Article 19 - Medical Marijuana Moratorium - Short of having a sampling table in the hallway which would lead to a very relaxed conversation on this article, it's likely we'll have some rather lively debate and heated moments on this one. The town manager will explain at length how this doesn't mean forever.
The following are petition articles signed by at least ten voters:
Article 20 - Local Option Meals Tax Program - This went down last year, but like Whack-A-Mole, it's back again. It's only a cup of coffee a month, they'll say. Death by a thousand cuts (or in this case, a thousand cups of coffee). Here's my recycled take on this article.
Article 21 - Separate & Privatize DPW Divisions - Somebody got dissed at the dump and is now proposing that the DPW be carved up into four pieces and each piece farmed out to the lowest bidder.
Article 22 - Impose Marina Waiting List Fee - If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.--Ronald Reagan / If it moves too slowly, throw a $25 fee on it.--Citizens Petition
Article 23 - Beach Parking Receipts to Renourishment Fund - This would set aside 20% of the beach parking and sticker receipts for projects at our salt water beaches, including dune renourishment.
Article 24 - Campaign Financing at Federal Level - Approval of this article would show our support for overturning the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision, aka "Corporations are people, too."--Mitt Romney
Article 25 - Close Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station - This article intends to gather momentum in the effort to close the nuclear plant in Plymouth. The debate could be interesting.
The following is the article slated for Tuesday night's Special Town Meeting:
Article 1 - Debt Exclusion for Joint Public Safety Building - Here's the grandaddy of all of the town meeting articles. $30 million to build the new public safety building and fire substation. See my post on this article here.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
See Dan's TV ad here. Literally, my proximity to Dan Winslow in the State House of Representatives (I sit in one row up and directly behind him) has given me a unique perspective on this fellow. We kid that, because the only electrical outlet around us is right behind Dan's chair, his job is to keep my iGadgets plugged in and charged.
It's a funny line, but being able to tap Dan on the shoulder to ask about some complicated maneuver in the proceedings or background on an issue before us is extremely helpful to me and others around us. Dan has worked as a judge, as chief counsel to Governor Mitt Romney, and now in the legislative branch. His depth of knowledge humbles me, and that's no easy task.
Do we want to win or just make a point?
I was ecstatic when Scott Brown won the senate seat along with many of you. Scott was there at the right time, handled a few key points--like "with all due respect, it's not the Kennedy seat"--extremely well and benefited from Coakley's string of gaffs and miscues. A great time was had by all.
Fast forward to November 2012 and the energy was noticeably absent from his race. By that time, Scott had taken a couple of votes that disappointed conservative Republicans; the one closest to the election being his vote against interstate authorization for concealed carry permit holders. In a microcosm of what happened to Mitt Romney, too many Republicans sat at home, refusing to vote for a candidate who didn't line up with them 100% on all of the issues.
This again is going to be a time when we can insist on a complete DNA match before casting our votes, or we can look at the bigger picture of whether we'd be better off as a state having a Republican senator.
Let's take the Pro-Life / Pro-Choice debate as an example. Who in this race says they are pro-life? Sullivan, Gomez and Lynch. Who has promised to work to reverse Roe v Wade? No one. What practical difference is there between the candidates on this issue? None.
Dan Winslow supports a woman's right to choose and has proposed legislation to make adoption less onerous and less expensive with the hope that this alternative will be a realistic choice for women who cannot be mothers.
Mike Sullivan's website reads: "I will promote policies to simplify the process of adoption, recognizing that there are many loving families who are eager to adopt a child only to find the process excessively complex and expensive."
Is there a difference here? Yes. Dan Winslow has actually filed legislation to make this happen.
What about gay marriage? None of the five support the Defense of Marriage Act.
What about transgender rights? Let me be unequivocal about this issue. The transgender bill that the legislature passed in November 2010 did not have anything in it relative to the use of bathrooms. The "Bathroom Bill" portion of this legislation was removed by an agreement which was brokered by Dan Winslow and several Democrats who saw the potential problems that the original language could create. I fume when I hear one of my friends declare that Dan Winslow voted for the Bathroom Bill. Now you know why.
Why Dan Winslow can win in June
Although, as I've pointed out, that there are few, if any, practical differences between the candidates on social issues, the perceived differences will work against Sullivan or Gomez in the June 25th general election. Dan Winslow will be able to focus on the big issues of jobs, the economy, national security, etc., free from getting entangled in a social issues debate that is simply unwinnable in Massachusetts.
Dan Winslow versus Markey or Lynch in a debate would be highly entertaining. From personal experience, I can tell you that Dan is quick on his feet, inspiring, energetic, and will leave people scratching their heads wondering why the Democrat was so unprepared.
Dan Winslow has shown time and again that he can generate ideas that people from both sides of the aisle can embrace. When Republicans talk about repealing ObamaCare, Democrats and middle-of-the-roaders shut down and stop listening. When Dan talks about Excel & Exempt, a proposal in which states that comply with a minimum standard relative to universal health insurance would be exempted from ObamaCare, now all of a sudden there's an idea that has appeal to both parties.
Dan is always looking for common ground upon which compromise can be reached. This is what we need in Washington, D.C. Enough of the foxholing. Enough of the division. Enough of the partisan politics.
Where have all the statesmen gone?
We have one in our midst. He is Dan Winslow.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
I see one compelling and overriding reason for keeping the office of town clerk an elected position. The reason for this has nothing to do with the current office holder; it has nothing to do with how many towns' charters call for elected versus appointed town clerks; it has nothing to do anyone's particular viewpoint on this issue other than my own.
This is how we handle our statewide elections, which are managed by the secretary of the commonwealth. Our state constitution, ratified in 1780 recognizes that the top elections officer should not report to the governor. On a federal level, elections are also managed state-by-state rather than by a centralized, presidentially-appointed elections authority.
We should not vary from this fundamental separation of power at the local level. An appointed town clerk would report to the town manager, who takes direction from the elected board of selectmen. This is a conflict of interest.
Arguments about the electing an incompetent person to the office of town clerk are insulting to the electorate. Arguments about how many other towns have appointed clerks make use of "lemming logic."
Give us credit. We the people who have the responsibility for choosing our town clerk can handle this responsibility.
I ask that someone rise up and offer an amendment to the charter adoption article to delete this change from an elected to an appointed town clerk. I appreciate the work of the charter committee, but this wresting of power from the electorate and awarding it to the town manager is bad policy.
See the May 2013 town meeting warrant, which includes the proposed charter by clicking here.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
One of his tax increases will hit only low income earners and leave rich people, like the Obamas, unaffected. It's a well-known tax threshold that has been tweaked by the Affordable Care Act, namely the medical expense deduction floor.
Up to the end of 2012, anyone who had allowable medical expenses, including co-pays, deductibles, other uninsured expenses, and health and long-term care insurance premiums, could deduct the portion of those expenses that exceeded 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI). Simply put, if your AGI was $50,000, then medical expenses in excess of $3,750 would be deductible. That is, $5,000 of medical expenses would yield a deduction of $1,250.
In Massachusetts, this is the only expense from Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, that is also allowed on the state income tax return.
Starting in 2013 (and in 2017 for people 65 and older), the Affordable Care Act raises this threshold to 10%. In the example above, the $1,250 deduction would vanish.
Who is this going to hurt? The Obamas? Of course not. This change will only affect lower wage earners who have high medical expenses. Serious medical conditions are often the reason for both, inability to work and frequent doctor visits and hospitalizations. This is the worst example of the rich riding on the backs of the poor that has slipped into law in years.
Most people will not learn of this attack on low income earners until they visit their tax preparers next year only to find out that they are the target of ObamaCare at a time when they are most vulnerable.
Congress needs to address this issue before the end of this year.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
From: Linell Grundman
Subject: For Immediate Release
Date: February 28, 2013 1:30:51 PM EST
The Sandwich Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force, (SSAPTF) invites the public to a major event.
"Creating a Community Aware, Engaged, and Addressing Youth Risky Behavior"
Monday, March 18th, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Sandwich Town Hall, Second Floor
Facilitated by national and international Drug Education Specialist, Jeff Wolfsberg, the program will include comments from Jeff along with audience participation. It is a Town Meeting type format.
Throughout the evening we focus on three critical areas: Social Norms, Education and Prevention, Environmental Changes. These are areas highlighted through the results of the recent Youth Risky Behavior Survey conducted by the SSAPTF.
There will be a panel of resource specialist available to address specific questions. They represent the diverse group of skill sets that come to the SSAPTF and the community working on issues of creating a healthier place for our youth, for us all. Included on this resource panel will be representatives from the town's Fire and Police, our schools, other youth serving organizations, and the medical community.
In addition to the central portion of the evening, in conclusion thirty minutes will be provided for people to have one on one conversations with SSAPTF members and our panel.
Students are welcome. The results of the resent Youth Risky Behavior Survey are available on the Town's web-site. Please plan to attend. You can make a difference!
Friday, March 8, 2013
Our governor is on a statewide campaign to drum up support for his investment (aka taxation) plan that will beef up our transportation infrastructure and education services. The goal? Raise an additional $1.9 billion a year with about half going to each of the above.
He’s pushing legislators to cozy up to his plan by sending us maps of our districts and how much of the $1.9 billion we’ll get each year. There’s no calculation of what it will cost, of course, but I put my pencil to paper and did some of my own calculating.
To arrive at a figure for my district’s cost of the proposed 19% income tax increase, I averaged 258 income tax returns I prepared for people who live in the 5th Barnstable District in 2011 and adjusted the number to coincide with average household income here. The result? Roughly $11 million in new income taxes. (Keep in mind that this is only personal income tax hikes; the governor's proposal also includes $230 million of corporate income tax increases statewide.)
Then I had to figure how much we’d save by having a 4.5% sales tax. This one’s tougher to calculate because a good chunk of that sales tax is paid by out-of-district tourists and second homeowners. (Actually, this is a very strong reason not to reduce sales tax in favor of a higher income tax.) I came up with $4 million for my district.
Netting the two (and this ignores the governor’s plan to index the gas tax and other fees), you get a 5th Barnstable District cost of about $7 million.
And what do we get back for this $7 million annual investment? According to the governor’s charts, $7 million ($5.5 million in education spending and $1.5 million in transportation spending). Pretty even exchange, right? Not so fast.
It turns out that the governor includes all of the school aid increases for the four towns that I represent. Other than the six precincts in Sandwich, I only represent one of fifteen precincts in Plymouth, two of thirteen precincts in Barnstable, and three of seven precincts in Bourne.
Plymouth's increase is $3.2 million, for example. If you look at Rep. deMacedo's chart, it also shows $3.2 million for Plymouth. And if you pull up Rep. Calter's chart? Yep. Again, $3.2 million for Plymouth. I've heard of double-counting things in a budget, but triple-counting is really pushing it. The same thing happens in Barnstable for Rep. Mannal, Rep. Turner and me, as well as in Bourne for Rep. Vieira and me.
So what's the real increase in education funding promised by the governor to the 5th Barnstable District? Paring down the governor's numbers by allocating by number of precincts in each town, he is promising us $664,000. Not $5.5 million. That's a pretty big overstatement. For transportation funding, the governor's unadjusted number is $1.5 million, whereas the real number is $613,000.
Let me summarize the governor's plan. We send $7+ million more a year to Beacon Hill and we get back $1.3 million. I don’t know about you, but if someone came knocking on my door to sell this investment plan, I’d shut it.
(Click on the charts below for a larger image. See all the charts at http://www.mass.gov/governor/agenda/choose-growth.html.)
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
This is the biggest capital project that has been proposed since the Oak Ridge and Forestdale schools were built. I invite everyone to comment on the proposed project and to register your educated guess as to what is likely to happen at the May town meeting and at the ballot on the following Thursday.
In the poll at the top right of this page, you can log your guesses both for the town meeting vote and the subsequent ballot question. If town meeting approves the project, a vote at the ballot must also pass to allow for the Proposition 2&1/2 debt exclusion. If town meeting turns down the project, voters could still approve the debt exclusion at the ballot and a special town meeting could be held to try once again to sway the voters.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
THE MIDDLESEX CLUB, "LINCOLN NIGHT," AT
HOTEL SOMERSET, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
The Middlesex Club mission statement: True to the Faith of Washington,
Holds fast the Principles of Lincoln, Grant, and Roosevelt
OFFICERS OF THE MIDDLESEX CLUB
Louis A. Coolidge, newspaper correspondent, not directly related to Calvin Coolidge
Henry Cabot Lodge - U.S. Senator, MA
John W. Weeks - Former U.S. Senator, MA
CHARLES NAGEL - Texas born, six children, state representative from MO, served under President Taft as Secretary of Commerce and Labor
[The following are excerpts of Nagel's speech to give you a flavor of what was being said about Abraham Lincoln 92 years ago.]
It is my belief that as time passes Abraham Lincoln's name will be honored more and more. By degrees the twelfth of February will be regarded as the day for the expression of the most solemn political sentiments and convictions. Even more, I believe that the years that have just passed have presented to us problems that can be best solved in the light of the counsel of eternal wisdom, toleration and magnanimity uttered by Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln's life to my mind is like great music. It may be criticized by this man or that, this phase or that may be dwelt upon, brought out, or obscured; but the composition is grasped in its entirety by the mass of the people. No artist and no representation can give its meaning as the people themselves have registered it in their hearts and their minds. Instinctively the people knew him first, and always knew him best.
We ask ourselves what was the thought that gave greatest significance to Lincoln's life. I should say that it was his grasp at the pivotal moment of the meaning of equality. He seized upon the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence at a moment when its fundamental thought was challenged to the danger of our people and our government. Up to that time we had lived in the sweet belief, as we have since been wont to do, that we should be satisfied with promises and with phrases. The Declaration of Independence was a noble instrument, but we had shown by our conduct that we did not quite mean what we said. "All men are created equal." The danger lest that phrase be untrue had been apparent enough. But when the moment of actual test came, it was Lincoln who seized upon the situation to show that this principle must be redeemed if our country was to stand. We cannot, a people cannot be half free and half slave. A house divided against itself can not stand. These plain, obvious truths Lincoln drove home with his persuasive power and undaunted courage until a whole nation was aroused to the moral issue. It was a marvelous triumph for this country that a man like Abraham Lincoln, rising from the very bottom, developed the power to present this great moral issue, and to bring it into such prominence before the whole nation as to make him the popular choice for president, and to decide the nation's fate at the same time.
Lincoln stood for actual equality, not in the abstract, but equality in the concrete. It was then, in the memorable debate with Douglas, that he stated what we ought to remember now, and, ladies and gentlemen, what we must live by today:
(Words of Lincoln)
"We have among us — besides these men descended by blood from our ancestors — perhaps half our people, who are not descendants at all of these men; they are men who have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they can not carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us; but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence, they find that those old men say that 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,' and then they feel that that moral sentiment, taught in that day, evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh, of the men who wrote that Declaration; and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together; that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world."
This was his answer to Douglas, who was trying to interpret the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in a narrow or racial sense. In standing for that doctrine in that debate of marvelous ability and boldness, Abraham Lincoln established the one principle upon which the unity of this country, states and people, the development of the genius of our institutions will have to depend. It was no longer a question of great men of English descent. It had become a question of worthy men and women of all lands. And for them it was no longer a question of paper equality, but it had become a question of practical freedom.
He was our greatest purely American President. He started with the lowliest and rose to the highest. He never abused authority. As the power grew in his hands, he became more restrained in its use. He bore famine worthily, but never lost his head at the feast. He never promised in the first person to his people, but he bent his energy and his thought to inspire the people with hope and confidence in their ability to achieve the things that belonged to them. He was a representative man, not to recede with time, but to grow in our esteem as the true standard-bearer of the genius and the hope and the promise of America. We celebrate this day because we have learned to recognize as the one typical great American — Abraham Lincoln.
Monday, February 4, 2013
Note to self: Never schedule a colonoscopy on the day after the Super Bowl.
It would take me a long time to list all the great food that I didn't eat on Super Bowl Sunday. Here's the shorter list of what I did eat:
Consommé - This is something intended to be an ingredient, not to be consumed as "dinner."
Chicken broth - See consommé.
Jell-O - Better when it's in that dish some people serve at Thanksgiving with whipped cream and nuts.
What was much more interesting was what I had to drink. The pharmacy keeps this stuff in a corner reserved for prescriptions to be dispensed with the tag line: "You're gonna have fun with this."
It's a gallon container with a mound of white powder in it and a selection of four fun flavor packets: Pineapple, orange, lemon-lime, and cherry. I selected orange, although the idea of adding more than one flavor did cross my mind. When I was a kid, we called it a "suicide" when you mixed all of the flavors at the 7-11 fountain.
I dumped in my flavor packet, filled the container with water to the four liter line, replaced the cap, and shook vigorously. The resulting solution was completely clear and nearly devoid of orange flavoring.
My task was to drink this stuff within three to four hours. I started at noon so that I'd be done before kickoff. The instructions state that you'll be hitting the head in about an hour. The instructions were right.
By the time you get to the last two or three glasses, you'd believe that your esophagus is directly connected to your colon.
When I awoke this morning, I shaved and took a shower before performing the last task for my doctor: The obligatory enema in the "green box."
The instructions had drawings of optional positions for taking the enema that are only exceeded in their scope and artistry by the Kama Sutra. I chose the "dog burying a bone" position and Mary administered the ice cold enema with what I perceived as a big smile on her face.
When we arrived at the surgical center, I answered lots of questions (the same ones that were on the forms I already filled out three weeks ago) and signed a half dozen releases that read like the agreements I click "Okay" to when I'm installing software.
The waiting area was pleasant, but what they had on TV was not. It was Rachel Ray cooking up some great looking dishes, remarking "mmm..." whenever she licked her fingers. Did I mention what I had to eat yesterday?
I was called back to the pre-op area and answered a bunch more questions, which somehow morphed into a discussion about medical marijuana. The nurse was very pleasant and professional and seemed to know a lot about marijuana.
I then dressed in my johnny gown and non-skid socks and paraded by a number of other patients in the pre-op like the emperor in his new clothes. Even when they're tied up properly, your butt is in plain view of anyone behind you.
The anesthetist and doctor chatted with me, asking about the governor's plans to raise taxes by $2 billion and some other small talk...
Then I was awakened in post-op about 45 minutes later. That Propofol is crazy good stuff. It puts you to sleep before you can count backwards from 10 to 9 and leaves you with no grogginess or headache afterward.
I had a muffin and cranberry juice, got dressed, and Mary chauffeured me home.
I admit that I've been a little skittish about having this done, but I do feel much better knowing that everything checked out okay.
When I do this again, I'll try to avoid booking it on July 5th.