Friday, November 26, 2010

Are you a real person?

I'm getting way too many spam comments these days.

Everyone knows about spam emails. The same thing happens to bloggers. Computer programs troll the blogs and post comments with links to porn sites, prescription drug sites, male enhancement sites, etc., most of which are strewn with viruses, adware, malware--you name it.

Because I release each comment before it gets published, my readers are never exposed to any of this stuff. But the trade-off is that I have to fish through 25 or more spam comments looking for the real ones.

To curtail most of this unwanted activity, I've changed the comment dialog to require that posters type in a word to complete their posts. Not a big deal, but I wanted to you know about the change and why it has been implemented.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Cape: A TV series not filmed on the Cape

When I heard that NBC will be debuting a new series in January, The Cape, I perked up, wondering how they could have gotten the show to this point without anyone on Cape Cod catching word of it.

Then I got suspicious, thinking that they’ve pulled one of those stunts where they film the action footage in North Carolina, ala Summer Catch, and shoot just a few setting and transitional scenes here on the Cape.

I called one of my friends who often works on movie sets when production companies come to Massachusetts.

Hey, Dave. Have you heard about this new TV show, The Cape? Did you get a call for any work as a grip on the set?”

“No, Randy. Haven’t heard a thing about it. They must have shot it somewhere else.”

I knew it! Confirmation that NBC commissioned a production company that left Cape Cod out in the cold.

Do you know how much business these TV and movie productions bring to the local economy? Hotels. Caterers. Extras. Grips.

What did Cape Cod get out of this? As Chris Farley would have put it, “Jack Squat.”

Here’s a preview of the series. Since, on principle, I’m boycotting the program, I haven’t watched it. Enjoy it if you can.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ware Report: Massachusetts Probation Department

Paul Ware’s report about rampant fraud and favoritism in the hiring and promotion process at the probation department exposes how the public trust was trampled on by Jack O’Brien, probation commissioner. It also goes a long way towards indicting the practices of influential legislators in creating a pay-to-play system.

It’s way past time to start cleaning house, but the Ware report makes it impossible to delay corrective actions any further. His report also makes one ponder just how isolated these fraudulent hiring practices are. Does anyone believe that similar schemes are not in play anywhere else in the state or in municipalities, which have a combined payroll of over 100,000?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In-state tuition for illegal immigrants

It’s baaaack...

Governor Deval Patrick’s annual assault on our common sense is back after being emboldened by the electorate’s endorsement of his policies on November 2nd.

If I were in charge of naming bills, this one would be called “An Act to Value Illegal Immigrants More Than Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans.”

Essentially, the legislation would award reduced (in-state) tuition to people here illegally while military veterans and every other person from states other than Massachusetts would be forced to pay higher out-of-state tuition.

California passed similar legislation several years ago and taxpayers there are coughing up as much as $23,000 per year per illegal immigrant to attend school, only to graduate with no prospect of joining the ranks of the employed. (Technically, it’s illegal to hire illegal immigrants—even in Massachusetts.)

Has anyone looked into California’s financial situation lately? It’s worse than ours, yet they are spending $200 million per year of taxpayer dollars to put illegal immigrants through college.

More details of the California law here.

Massachusetts is facing a $2 billion budget deficit and the governor wants to waste your tax dollars on this?

This is the definition of insanity.

Log your vote on this issue above. Then call your legislators and tell them “enough is enough.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pay per view newspapers?

Several months ago, when the powers that be at the Cape Cod Times made it public that they were planning to convert their online newspaper to a subscription service, I grimaced.

My daily online CCT reading ritual is to scan the list of articles, reading two or three of them, then reading the district court log (makes for good discussion if any of my clients or their kids have been arrested), editorial, letters to the editor, and the My View column.

How much can this be worth?

How about $180 a year?

Seems like a lot. After all, there are other newspapers still free online, but no dailies that deal with Cape Cod. And don’t tell me about Cape Cod Today. That blog is the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever seen masquerading as a legitimate news source. I haven’t given Walter the courtesy of a click in six months and never will.

I’m not against subscriptions for online material, per se. I’ve had a Wall Street Journal Online subscription since they first started it years ago. And I’m constantly on Consumer Reports Online to compare weed eaters and microwave popcorn.

But $180 a year? My Wall Street Journal subscription sets me back $155 a year, although they offer a “pro” online subscription for $455 a year. As much as joining their exclusive professional readers’ club would boost my sagging self image, I think I’ll pass.

Consumer Reports Online, on the other hand, is $19 a year. Now that’s a deal. And, according to Consumer Reports, it’s the best in category, sporting all red, filled-in circles, beating Consumer Digest hands down.

My decision?

I signed up for the unlimited access subscription to the Cape Cod Times. I really do need to read it, especially considering my new responsibilities as state representative, but I’m not getting the print edition. I canceled that after our dog died and it became clear that Mary was not willing to take on the fetching responsibility.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Campaign-O-Cycle

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Look! Down the street!

It's a Harley. It's a rocket. It's Campaign-O-Cycle!!



Copyright 2010 Randy Hunt

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Plan B: How to fix our town buildings

On July 24, 2010, I wrote the following about the timing of putting a debt exclusion on the November ballot (read the entire post here):

Voting to put a debt exclusion on the November 2nd ballot is a big step; unfortunately a misstep.

This November’s election is a referendum on the White House, Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill. It comes in the midst of nine-plus percent unemployment and the worst economic recession in most people’s memory.

That’s quite a backdrop for asking voters for more money. “Let the people decide,” it was said during the discussion at last Thursday’s board of selectmen meeting. They will do that, for sure. You betcha.

Not many people object to maintaining and repairing our town and school buildings. I did hear some interesting comments at the October special town meeting about how the roofs were leaking less than ten years after the Oak Ridge and Forestdale schools were built and how we have a two-man facilities team with a $100,000 annual budget to maintain all of our buildings.

Why didn’t we go after the roof installer when the 20-year roofs failed in seven?

Why don’t we spend more on preventive maintenance in our operating budget?

At this point, the first question is water under the bridge, but the second question is key to convincing voters to support a capital improvement debt exclusion.

How we should proceed

I believe the selectmen need to do three things by the May town meeting to convince voters to support a building improvement override:

1)      Split the question into three categories:
a.       School roofs, which are eligible for a 40% reimbursement from the state. The article could ask for the net amount and be effective only if the project is approved by the state for co-funding.
b.      Building improvements necessary to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our town workers and the public and to bring those buildings up to code.
c.       All other projects on the November debt exclusion.

2)      Make a commitment to fund preventive maintenance at a level necessary to stop the accelerated deterioration of our town and school buildings. Tell us what that number is.

3)      Roll out a plan to balance the operating budget for at least two more years without the need for an operating override. Getting that issue off the table will encourage voters to deal with our critical facilities needs without fear of being assaulted by a tax increase to fund wage increases that no one in the private sector is enjoying.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Possessive of possessive's

Bud’s Country Lounge has gotten a sign facelift. Now it could use a grammar upgrade.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

School committee: There's no more sand for burying heads

Yesterday, an anonymous poster reported that our school superintendent filed a lawsuit on Monday. More of the story was reported this morning by George Brennan. Read it here.

Brennan reported that the lawsuit names the town, the school committee, and four individual members of the school committee as defendants. The superintendent is seeking $300,000 plus damages for emotional distress.

Everyone should be aware that “town” is short-hand for us, the residents and taxpayers of Sandwich. Insurance is unlikely to cover a judgment that involves willful negligence or wrongful acts and certainly would not pay for a valid contract.

Of course, all of this could have been avoided, but inaction has put the school committee in a deep pit. Even still, one of the four defendants said the focus should be on the budget and another is intent on spending money on a superintendent search.

Move on. Nothing to see here.