Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sandwich Board of Selectmen

This is where you can leave your comments about the candidates for Sandwich Board of Selectmen. The regular rules regarding slander and language apply, so keep it clean and constructive.

Sandwich School Committee

This is where you can leave your comments about the candidates for Sandwich School Committee. The regular rules regarding slander and language apply, so keep it clean and constructive.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is the Tea Party movement really that threatening?

Guest editorial by Jim Killion

Bill Clinton. How will we ever be able to miss him if he won’t go away? Apparently, the overseas influence peddling racket has slowed down for the former White House lothario so he’s decided to hit the media circuit in an effort to blame America’s problems on peaceful demonstrators. Say what you will about the Tea Party crowd, but the one thing you can’t call them is violent. Yet somehow this disbarred disgrace feels that painting a Hitler mustache on the President’s picture is paramount to domestic terrorism. Oddly enough, he didn’t seem to have an issue with this gesture a few years ago when George Bush was the target of such scorn.

I certainly do not have any objections to people who speak their mind but considering that this menace managed to kill more people at the Branch Davidian Compound than in any Al Qaeda camp, I find his views on what constitutes a terrorist more than just a tiny bit suspect. Don’t forget, when Slick Willie had a chance to drop a sidewinder missile down Bin Laden’s shorts, he voted present. But now of course, he knows all about the true perils we face.

But what is going on here is as clear as the growing nose on Obama’s face. The left is terrified of losing their grip on power and will stop at absolutely nothing to retain it. In their liberal-ravaged minds, they see Americans who protest their big government tax and spend ways as the larger threat. When it comes to national security, it appears that as far as this administration is concerned, the gathering threat of a nuclear armed Iran is pale in comparison to a gang of grannies in tri-cornered hats.

For years, George Bush had to deal with various protestors from all walks of life but no matter how much he may have disagreed with them, he never publicly said a disparaging word. Obama has been a tremendous disappointment to many but nothing angers me more than to hear him attempt to marginalize and belittle average Americans who happen to disagree with him. The Office of the President should be about much more than trying to settle scores. It should be about leadership, something sadly missing from the President’s repertoire.

Jim Killion
Sandwich, MA

Lost Heroes Art Quilt

I attended a very moving ceremony yesterday at the Statehouse for the Lost Heroes Art Quilt. The quilt depicts 50 soldiers killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, one from each state. There are 32 other fallen soldiers in the top and bottom borders of the quilt.


What sets this apart from other commemorative wartime works of art is that each of the soldiers is portrayed as a youth, the faces of children wearing adult-sized field jackets. The artist, Julie Feingold, explains her reason for the depictions as children: “I was struck by a statement that one of the mothers made when she was interviewed after her son’s death. She stated that her son always wanted to be a soldier and often played in ‘G.I. Joe’ costume.”

In a moving speech, Kae McGuire, mother of Daniel McGuire, a Marine from Mashpee killed in action in Iraq on August 14, 2008, brought tears to many in the crowd, a number of whom had lost family members in the wars and who were holding red roses.

To learn more about the Lost Heroes Art Quilt, click here.

Copyright 2010 Randy Hunt

Monday, April 19, 2010

What makes for an effective elected official?

Guest editorial by Carl Johansen

Sandwich is entering another critical time in its history. So as we all prepare to vote for the board of selectmen and school committee, what do you look for that helps to make your mind up as to for whom you should vote?

Both elected positions have two openings and keeping with the democratic process every vote counts and no one, when they vote, should vote for only one candidate. If this were the days of the Bulger Brothers you would not have a choice, as you were told to vote for the hand picked person they endorsed. Those that employ a bullet vote to get a person elected into office, in my opinion, defeat the very meaning of democracy and the reason so many gave up their lives so that we all may have the freedom to vote in a democratic country.

What quality makes a good choice for me is someone whom is not only true to themselves, but to others as well. Honesty is a trait around which all the remaining qualities will revolve.

Is the person willing to take a chance and think outside of the normal channels to get things done? Do they have the inner strength to learn from their mistakes and acknowledge the errors in today’s world?

A good leader must have an understanding of responsibility and be willing to delegate that responsibility to others. If a leader is not willing to delegate, then in my opinion they do not have trust in fellow board members and when they are selected as chairperson fail to serve the common good of the group at large. This bond of trust becomes even more critical when problems arise that need the full cooperation of every member on the committee working toward a common goal

Another quality a good leader will have is an open mind and the willingness to listen to everyone before deciding the final outcome. Only the facts in a problem and not political forces should make the final choices.

Can that person set a good example to follow and be a strong unwavering voice as to how and why decisions were made? In other words, do not attempt to please both sides of an issue just to save face.

Experience comes in many ways, on the job and in one’s personal life. Every good politician learned on the job, none were born into it. Financial matters in regards to ones personal life are important, but being honest is more so. We are all equals and no one should ever be above another as free citizens. Experience is gained with an open mind to change and practical matters of common concerns that will guide us through the problems we all face as the board of selectmen or school committee.

Carl Johansen
A concerned citizen in the wonderful Town of Sandwich

Guerin opposes an override

Guest editorial by Bob Guerin, candidate for school committee

It’s almost Election Day and it’s still a little unclear to me which candidates are supporters of Proposition 2½ overrides as a budgeting tool. It will be interesting to see if anyone will stand up before May 6th and acknowledge that they’re proponents of overrides and then make their case.

Proposition 2½ does not prohibit the raising of property taxes. It simply requires the consent of voters before doing so.

Proposition 2½ limits the increase in the maximum tax take for a community to 2.5 percent plus new growth. But communities can vote themselves tax increases anytime they choose. The increase can be permanent or temporary, to pay for a one-time expense such as the construction of a new school or town office building.

It should be difficult, not easy, to raise taxes. Proposition 2½ forces supporters of a tax increase to justify their position. They must compile evidence that convinces a majority of their fellow citizens their stance is the correct one. It is the essence of democracy.

Proposition 2½’s critics argue the measure is divisive. It pits one segment of a community against another. But debate and division are part of democracy. There’s nothing democratic about unanimity. Such sentiments are more characteristic of dictatorships, where few dare question authority.

I am opposed to any override because I do not believe town leaders and town employees have done enough to control spending. I still believe that the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Finance Committee have work to do and I am sure that an override now will eliminate any desire (as well as the need) for real reform.

Bob Guerin
Sandwich, MA

Mi casa es su casa (my blog is your blog)

If anyone (including candidates) wants to post a guest editorial on my blog, feel free to email me your piece.

I have two in the queue, one from Carl Johansen and one from Bob Guerin.

Any other takers?

Copyright 2010 Randy Hunt

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Solving our town's problems

Guest editorial by Carl Johansen

To the good citizens of Sandwich:

We all know Sandwich is in a financial dilemma and we are limited to how many dollars we can raise to effectively solve all our problems, but that should not mean we stop trying, going forward into the future of Sandwich.

We must solve this imbalance of the structural deficit if we here in Sandwich are to survive. Both the municipal and school sides of these deficits need to be truly evaluated for the positive outcomes we need to bring to these problems. We have a few individuals that are placing them selves in the breach to hopefully gain the upper hand on our dilemma.

As I watched and listened to last night’s candidates’ debate, I see that those individuals do exist.

We need strong citizens who are not afraid to not only look outside of the box, but be prepared to follow up as well.

We need these candidates to also not have any hidden agendas, as was clear to me in some cases last night held.

We need candidates who are aware of all our problems both from the school side as well as the municipal side that can focus on the reality we all face here in Sandwich during these hard economic times.

Economic development has been the buzzword for the past number of years, but what has really transpired has not been positive to the whole town as of yet. How do you make a plan on a wish, because up to now that is what I see, even going into the future.

Sandwich, over the years has lost meaningful economic development because of road blocks placed before it by the very folks that seem to find some fault that it is not a good fit here in Sandwich. We have lost many opportunities over the years and many new business folks no longer believe we are serious in that endeavor.

We need to show the world that Sandwich can change its image for the future, because if we do not, we will still be talking about economic development ten or twenty years from today.

This leaves us with a very narrow window of opportunity to resolve our present problems, as we are facing presently, so we need to help ourselves the best way we can.

If that means reducing some of the useless and outmoded structures we own by selling them, then we need to do that. History cannot dictate the final outcome, rather it should enhance the process if we all keep an open mind as to the final benefit for the welfare of the whole town.

Consolidating has its merits and looking to the future as well. When speaking about town buildings, they should be aggressively addressed, because if we do not put in place a plan of the future we all will remain in the past and suffer a continued economic imbalance.

Centralized government is the future to survival for Sandwich and we need to make those sacrifices now and not wait, because waiting will continue to take its toll and recovery will never occur, no matter how much economic development we do see.

Any and all choices must be made for everyone and not for just one side of the equation to our problems we face today as a town.

In closing we need to evaluate the process to save our beaches. If we do not, Sandwich is looking at an economic disaster like none we have ever seen and it will not be pretty. We need to be proactive for the completion of establishing a better safety net to protecting our downtown properties.
Why can we not sue the Army Corps of Engineers for the present damages to the beachfronts and get relief from the very agency that created the problem for us?

I would like to see what some of my fellow town’s folks think may provide us with a positive blue print and guide the future of Sandwich. We need to be thinking about positive changes we can make, so that we can control our own destiny.

Carl Johansen
A concerned citizen in the wonderful Town Of Sandwich

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Health care reform: This Edsel just might fly

In my most recent post, I laid out a 3-step process for ushering in single-payer health care. See it here. Actually, it’s only a 2-step process, the third step being to sit back and watch the new health insurance system crash and burn.

Here’s the summary:

Step One – Pass the law in spite of public opinion and zero bipartisan support: Check.

Step Two – Move the Supreme Court to the left by appointing one more liberal justice: Not so easy.

Step Three – Watch this unsustainable insurance reform spiral out of control—if anyone doubts this will happen, take a closer look at Massachusetts—necessitating another revamp of the system, namely, a government controlled, single-payer system.

What we’ve seen from the right since this law passed centers around two strategies:

1) Repeal the law.

2) Challenge its constitutionality.

Repealing the law seems unrealistic to me. Calls to do this ring more of sour grapes than anything doable. I don’t intend to confiscate anyone’s sour grapes—there are plenty of bunches to go around—but I don’t see a path to repeal, at least by a vote of Congress, without some unlikely, veto-proofing change in the balance of Congress.

Certain aspects of the 2010 Health Care Act, on the other hand, are the object of challenges by a number of states’ attorneys general on the grounds that these requirements are unconstitutional, the primary one being the forced purchase of health insurance policies.

I’m not a lawyer, just a bean counter, but I would guess that if some items in this 2000-plus-page reform law were to be declared unconstitutional, it would not undo the entire bill. Rather, it would just strike those clauses that don’t pass muster.

And that is likely to gum things up.

The argument goes that, if the requirement to purchase health insurance turns out to be unenforceable, a lot of people would wait to sign up for insurance until they get sick, then take advantage of the no-pre-existing-condition rule to purchase insurance just in time for chemotherapy and radiation treatments, dropping the policy immediately thereafter.

Massachusetts has had a no-pre-existing-condition law since the 1990s. Maybe some Bay Staters are pulling this stunt now, but I’m not reading about it in the press. More likely, they are heading to an emergency room and piling up a ton of bills (which the state reimburses a portion of to the hospitals, costing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars every year).

So let’s back up for a minute and assume that the health reform act stays intact, surviving all challenges. How do we avoid jumping on the express train to a complete government takeover of our health care delivery system?

Make it work.

Simple.

If my cynical conclusion is true, that this unsustainable 2010 Health Care Act is a backdoor entre to a single-payer system, then the most effective way to battle it is to make it work.

And that can still be done.

It’s time for Republicans and conservative “blue dogs” in Congress to put their money where their tongue depressors are by introducing legislation featuring the cost control measures that have become somewhat of a “usual suspects list:”

Tort reform

Electronic medical records

Interstate competition of health insurance companies

I would add to that list a correction to what I believe is also running up costs: The invisible invoice.

Even if you receive a billing through your insurance company that itemizes the cost of your latest doctor visit, the fact that your responsibility ends with the $10 or $15 co-payment makes it unnecessary to flip through that bill to see what’s in it.

In the old days, we had to pay the doctor, then fill out insurance forms to request a reimbursement. I didn’t particularly enjoy this exercise, but I did know exactly what we were spending on doctor visits. In fact, that 20% co-payment (after we paid the $1,000 family deductible) was enough to keep us from sitting in the waiting room every other day.

The low, fixed price of an office visit encourages the overuse of primary physicians’ services which exacerbates the cost of defensive medicine, that is, doctors being forced to order unnecessary diagnostic tests and prescribing expensive medicines and therapies in an effort to avoid costly litigation.

In an interesting chain of events, the invisible invoice pushes up the cost of health care which, in turn, pushes up premium prices, which results in an even higher utilization of health insurance. It goes like this: “If I have to pay $1,000 a month for health insurance, I’m going to damn well use it.”

And the spiral continues…

So this is our challenge: Coming up with ways to make this health care reform work in order to avoid moving to a system where everything is “free,” because we all know (or should know) that “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

Copyright 2010 Randy Hunt