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Just to make a point, the numbers simply do not show that the DPW is wasting a lot of money. I was on the finance committee for about six years and their budget was virtually always in line with our revenues. I have seen no evidence that they spend excess money or have excess staff. I have sat on town meeting for over 12 years and quite a few people - including quite a few inclined to be critical of the DPW-have had numerous opportunities to make the case that it is overstaffed, which these scattered comments about four people filling a hole imply. Nothing.
There are important issues about some of the capital costs (trucks etc) and how they are financed (via reserves), the cost of health insurance (a big budget buster over the years but lower the past few probably due to competition between Blue Cross and the state insurance program, the GIC). But the notion that there are a lot of extra people filling potholes is just not supported by the numbers or by the observations of people who spend their time looking at this stuff.
I hesitate to get into an argument with someone who claims to always see four people filling a pothole. Would not say it never happens but the other day I saw two guys working on the road and yesterday I saw one person mowing the grass on town property around Montague Center. I have also seen one guy on a plow during a raging snowstorm.
I dare say the DPW waste their fair share of tax payer money. The classic three guys in the front of the pickup with one shovel in the back, is a real treat. I wish they filled the holes right the first time but where's the job security in that. the new water main they ran to the old Monty school was a real money saver. Keeping things in house like that was a bad idea.
i just heard that a 73 lb. male mostly black dog (with a little white) named Chuckie has gone missing in the Greenfield/Montague area. he's microchipped by 'Home Again'. if you see him, their number is 888 466 3242.
wishing all pets well -
Looking for an immediate clean out, the beginning of next week. We also need refrigerators, washers and freezers moved to multiple locations, Hatfield and Turners. We also have an organ.
413 863 3575
I have less of a problem with 4 people filling a pothole because I only see them for less than a minute and I do not know what the job entails other than being in the street with the traffic not always paying attention.
Maybe the one holding his coffee is on a mandatory break and that they take turns taking their breaks to speed the project along?
My major concern is that they fill in the pothole correctly the first time.
I don't think the PD was worried about the taxpayers wallet. They speed because they can period. 65 mph is the speed limit for everyone. And if they aren't on a call it applies to them as well. Personally I get more upset when I see 4 guys filling one pot hole in town. One guy holding a rake, one holding a shovel, one actually working, and one holding a coffee. Now that's one expensive pot hole crew.
Personally if I tried to use the excuse that I was trying to avoid overtime so I was speeding, I don't think I would get out of that ticket.
I always thought one aspect of a public official was to set a good example.
I do a lot of random driving on 91 and the majority of the people are staying under 70. I do 66 or 67 per my speedometer and I do pass a lot of people. People aren't flying down the road as much as they did 10 years ago. Maybe there are more speeders during rush hour. I do admit that traffic does seem to speed up going North once passed Northampton but that is usually due to the sudden decrease in the amount of traffic.
I don't know why it irks me to see a local Montague police car speeding 75 mph on the interstate in Holyoke. There should be nothing so important that a police officer needs to be speeding espicially outside his jurisdiction. Maybe it is the total disregard of wasting fuel (that the tax payers are supplying) by driving at excessive rates of speed.
Sighting of Montague car #1 around 4:15pm heading north on I-91.
Montague Business Association will host a paper shredding event June 8, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot near Aubuchon Hardware on Avenue A. Valley Green Shredding will be there to destroy your sensitive papers, junk mail and other documents. There is no cost to participate, but donations are suggested at $5 (and up) per box or bag of paper. Proceeds will support safety projects in Montague and the Gill-Montague Community Partnership. All are welcome.
The head of the IRS was fired by Obama but Obama failed to mention that he was quitting in a couple of weeks. If Obama wanted to find out the truth he would call for a special prosecutor. So much for having an open administration.
Just in case anyone is interested in a little truth while the Republican attack machine and the lazy media go nuts over Benghazi and the IRS scandal, here is an interesting article about the tax-exempt status the Tea Party was applying for. It turns out they - or more likely Tea Party front organizations were applying for a tax exemption on the basis that they were "social welfare" organizations and primarily doing "educational" work on issues like... the Constitution, patriotism and so forth. What a joke.
Now if this article is correct the IRS has every reason to investigate the Tea Party phonies if they want a tax exemption and want to hide the names of their contributors under the guise that they are social welfare organizations. Of course the IRS should apply the same standards to "liberal" groups who do the same thing. If not, that would be the real scandal.
But it is interesting that in scanning the massive numbers of media reports on this over the past few days, I have not yet seen any mention of a rather important issue.... do these political groups in fact deserve to be tax exempt? And of course if you are going to investigate their political activities - which you should if they are applying for tax exempt status as primarily non-political organizations - you will be checking out their front groups which have words like "patriot," "tea party" and "constitution" in them
But of course ignoring fundamental details - whether liberals or conservatives do it - is all part of the lazy media scandal machine.
The school committee may not be"looking for help" with the GMRSD budget (I suspect if the issue is framed that way you will get a negative reaction). But let's just say a standard /consistent set of documents at the various meetings with an agreed upon way of analyzing them would improve the situation.
The Heroin infiltration and what we can do about it
My thoughts about what to do about the local "scene" is to definitely have a greater police presence, perhaps including bicycle police. I t works in Northampton and in other communities I have been in.
I'm not advocating following and busting the local stoners but to have a presence in the community. Unfortunately this could result in "dealing" going more underground where it would be difficult to ferret out. Community watches can be very effective. Neighbors should be encouraged to inform police about any suspected drug activity especially if they know it will result in a safer community. Police as allies and not enemies would also be helpful. I think it would take a community forum to discuss this including safe ways to let law enforcement know without having any repercussions. I don't know if you all remember the poor young man that informed about some thefts in Turners a few years ago and wound up getting beaten to death by a baseball bat in front of a bunch of fellow classmates. Very sad.
This is your community folks. Take it back, own it and do your part to protect it.
I wish all we had to do was worry about school committees and the size of apartments ( I highly regard all the folks that work on these issues, by the way) but sadly that is not the case.
The Heroin infiltration and what we can do about it
Interesting point about dual diagnosis. I know one can be mentally ill without drug addiction, but I would consider drug addiction a form or symptom of mental illness.
On the demand side, I would like to study what causes drug addiction. I don't accept "drugs" as the answer, do you? Happy people can use heroin and similar drugs without becoming addicted. Unhappy people tend to fall into addiction, whether it be to drugs, risk-taking, video games, booze, or whatever.
I don't have direct experience with drug addiction (thankfully) but I suspect all forms of addiction serve the "purpose" of distracting the addict from bad feelings: sadness, anxiety, anger, shame, etc. We notice heroin addiction more because of the resulting crime, but the underlying pain would still exist without drugs.
Obviously, I don't expect us to cure everyone's pain, and I have mixed feelings about the role of law enforcement. I'd list "education" among the areas to which to direct resources. I am grateful to the Recorder for this week's series and to this thread for opening the discussion.
By the way, I found this book enlightening with regard to the causes of addiction: The Globalization of Addiction, http://globalizationofaddiction.ca/ In a nutshell, "dislocation" (economic, social, etc.) increases addiction rates. "Psychosocial integration" (a sense of belonging) decreases addiction.
The Heroin infiltration and what we can do about it
Well it looks like the poppy fields in Afghanistan are having an unsettling effect on our communities. I'm sure the Taliban would be happy to know this. They don't have to attack us overtly....just send substances to the more vulnerable members of our community, state and country to pump into their bloodstream. Instability and mayhem from within without even attacking us on our soil. This has been going on for a very long time.
It seems to me there are 2 parts to this problem : supply and demand - both in a seemingly unending relationship.
Since we can't solve the larger problem of supply from here in Montague, especially with corrupt CIA in the mix, perhaps the demand can be addressed by more law enforcement and drug treatment facilities.
Speaking from personal experience with a family member and observations of this state's facilities,
most addicts are not happy about being addicts. Many have a mental illness to begin with - dual diagnosis. In this state you can't get help in a drug treatment center if you have a mental illness. You can't get help for mental illness in our state psyche wards if you have a drug addiction. Very few facilities will help with a dual diagnosis. Jails don't solve the problem. Drug addiction is an insidious disease with a very long term rehabilitation that is often not successful. There are very few resources for the number of addicts out there that would willingly stop if they had help.The waiting list for treatment centers and sober houses is impossibly long.
I know my views are simplistic but with all the money spent protecting poppy fields in Afghanistan and elsewhere, it may have been better spent at home on prevention, law enforcement and treatment. Of course a grain of prevention is worth a pound of cure in the larger scheme of things.
No I do not think the town boards should replace the school committee in terms of its oversight budget role. I have never said that and I absolutely do not think that. But I have never understood this rather arbitrary distinction you make between the role of the finance committee and the role of the school committee. It is not clear what the basis of this is or what its practical value is.
The reality is, whatever your philosophy or theory, the school committee has hearings and goes before town boards and town meetings. They present data and information to make their case for their budget. Board members and town meeting members ask questions about that data and all sorts of other issues. Doesn't it make sense to have the right data so we can have that discussion? Doesn't it make sense to solve what is obviously a problem rather than get into a philosophical discussion about the roles of committees?
Also as a practical matter, the fin coms tend to be better at budget analysis (it is what they do) so they can in fact help the school committee which has a tremendous amount on its plate and whose members tend not to specialize in budget analysis. I am not talking about replacing the SC oversight role but simply helping to improve the situation, which really is not good.
Sitting back and saying "that's not our role" may be somewhat true but does not solve the problem. And in fact is contradicted by what actually happens at these hearings/town meeting etc.