Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Autumn leaves over Upper Stoneville Res

Just thought I'd post a nice picture of the sun hitting the leaves this morning. Color really stands out that time of day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Good news lost in the shuffle

We had a higher than expected tax levy thanks to new growth in our bustling little town. It amounted to something like $750K or more.

I know it's not popular among the bean counter hand wringer crowd these days, particularly in light of the "financial crisis" or meltdown or whatever to admit to good news for Auburn. Just how the credit crisis has directly affected the town I'm not sure it has. It's a little light of hope for us I think to have this found money, you can't deny it.

And thanks to the new software we enabled in the meeting it should be easier to track and exact taxes from new sources like this.

It was nice to be able to have a little breathing room for additional oil expenditure for schools and town, although it appears at least for the town we may not need it. It's a shame the contract for the oil price for schools wasn't one of those that go down but not up (which you pay a small premium over current price for). But still and all not bad to lock in to $3.30. Of course Massenergy blows that away right now ... somewhere around $2.50/gallon for consumers.

This revolution was televised

Wow - big step towards a major change in town government was taken last night when we voted to accept (with 3 amendments) the charter review commission's recommendation for a charter change.

If accepted by the legislature and voters in May, we will have a town manager form of government and appointed boards and employees instead of elected ones by the town manager as well as police officers by the police chief.

I was a bit surprised that things went so lopsided for acceptance of this, but also pleased. I think this is essential to modernize the town and create a more efficient, orderly and effective local government.

One criticism that was particularly annoying to me was "this document isn't ready". Being one of the 3 or 4 people who actually showed up to the meetings, I felt they really meant to say "we're not ready because we didn't do our homework on time". There was ample opportunity for all to become part of this process over the past 18 months. They had an internet presence so you didn't even have to attend the meetings for crying out loud! They met with the public, the department heads (which could not have been easy, change is scary sometimes) and the town admin and BOS.

Great job Roger and charter review and good luck in May - let's complete the job and get a strong town manager in here to bring us into the 21st Century!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kudos to all on the fall fest

It went really well!

Kristin and Eleena pulled off a nice event that brought a bunch of businesses and community folks together. The weather held off and the dunk tank was a lot of fun. Nick Hammond, Wayne Page and Mr Valentine got in for the fun and to benefit fuel assistance. I even got in for a spell. It's kind of amazing how obnoxious you get in that cage. It was OK for the first 10 minutes after getting wet, then got chilly ;). My son was the first to dunk me! But it wasn't too bad actually I think the temps were around 60 or above. The wind was strong but it didn't rain the whole time and we relieved each other once things got cold.

I'm sure they'll work out a few of the kinks for next time and get some more involvement also. Schedules can come together a little more - there were a couple other things going on we can incorporate for next time. There were a few groups notably absent (which I won't note but you know who you are ;) but who I think could really mutually benefit the community by becoming involved.

All in all, everyone gave selflessly and came together to pull it off! Great time folks, look for the pics in the paper and word on the next event. I think they also have some good ideas for 4th of July so stay tuned!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall fest is on

Check it out - 1-6 today at Lemansky down by the track

I gotta go help right now

btw - they will have a dunk tank - I plan to get in and so does Nick. Maybe I'll get Doug to hit it. Come early though because it won't be a full 5 hour event! (don't want hypothermia ;)

Friday, October 24, 2008

The world is curved

Just wanted to put in a word for a brilliant new book called The World is Curved, by David Smick, which predicted the financial crisis we are now in. It came out Sept 4th. The title is a swipe at Tom Friedman's modern classic about supply chain in the age of globalism called The World is Flat, which describes a miraculous new age of cooperation, free trade and global prosperity. Ahem ... except for when things like subprime happen! ;)

In the words of Publisher's Weekly

With this illuminating book, [David] Smick revisits Thomas Friedman’s description of the “flat” world produced by globalization, arguing instead that the uncertainty produced by globalized financial markets has created a world that is curved, where events and their consequences are unpredictable. Smick begins with a puzzle: why did the subprime mortgage crisis, an event that directly impacted a relatively small piece of the global market, have such a catastrophic impact on the world market as a whole? From there, the author turns to topics as complex and varied as the potential 21st century Chinese financial bubble and the policy dilemmas currently facing the Fed. Throughout the book, the author returns to the argument that political trends are increasingly at odds with the forces driving the globalized world economy. Smick brings expertise and lucidity to many difficult subjects, and while his book’s appeal will likely be limited to those with some background in the field, it will undoubtedly stir interest and debate amongst investors, policymakers and strategists alike.

Basically the lack of transparency, bad trade agreements and monetary policies are all a part of it as are lax regulatory enforcement.

Should be on the gift list for the holidays (or my birthday, if I can wait that long ... on second thought think I'll be picking it up over the weekend ;).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2006 Income tax paid: $17.8M, local aid: $3.9M

Welp ... I finally tracked down the information I was looking for from the state.

Read it and weep should be the caption ...

Here's a pointer to the info...

The income tax receipts for Auburn for the latest year on record (2006) were around $17.8M. This is according to a senior economist for the DOR DLS. By way of comparison, our local aid for the year was around $3.9M according to DOR DLS. So our money DOES go east and never return.

There's a discrepancy/overhead/loss from the state of $17.8-3.9=$13.9M for 6500 taxpayers we would have saved (net) if there were no income tax. The numbers are a little different for last year because we got more aid, but I bet we paid more too. They don't have that yet though. In any event, think about it - if you could have $14 or 15M in your pocket (among 6500 people that's an average of $2138 for 06 numbers) or let's be fair, if we made up for TWICE the amount of money we get back, say $1000 in your pocket with MORE money for a library or a curriculum coordinator or police/fire, wouldn't you do it?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lights on Swanson?

Anyone notice the lights have been blinking on Swanson since Friday - not sure of the deal here, but obviously it should be fixed ASAP! It's right next to the Middle school and in a high traffic area.

That little spec ... is making money for Holy Name

Its actually hard to see with my phone camera but the new Holy Name windmill is actually visible from the Shoppes over in Millbury.

Let's see if this comes out

Anyway, you can also see it from 290, but despite its size it's only visible for a brief time if you're headed west. Going the other way it's not even visible. Funny because it appears almost like any other building. Every time I see it turning - and it was turning REALLY well over this past week - I think about the money it's cranking out in electricity.

I also noticed the new tower on Millbury St by Worcester envelope. To me I think all the concerns and dire warnings about looming towers are overblown. Oh I guess that's a pun - haha ;). Anyway, to me it really depends on how you "see it" (I'm full of them this AM - sorry was up watching ALCS sadly ...) but I get a good feeling about the windmills, like we're doing the right thing for energy and global warming. I guess if I had one next to my house, not a bad idea actually living next to the water as I do with a seemingly constant breeze, but if it was sufficient size I might be more concerned, but so far they look pretty good.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Biking in the bailout

Cross posted from my fitness blog.

It turns out there are a few good developments for biking in the bailout bill. It'd be nice to have some bike lanes maybe in the Veterans corridor and some trails on town land.

Something for the Rec committee to look into, especially in these days of rampant obesity and high fuel prices. One thing that's becoming an issue is safety. It's one thing to encourage biking it's another to really accommodate them on the roadways, where it's dangerous enough when you're driving, never mind biking or heaven forbid on foot! It should be a goal to make a commitment to this in a real way going forward in the town.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wind study in Charlton

Other towns are looking into this - power would be used for a school.

Auburn needs to get off its duff and get moving on something for the town. Probably on one of the hills.

Plymouth Rock studios

Interesting development down in Plymouth - a new movie studio.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This is precious

Too funny - looks like something off one of those joke websites

Corner of Rochdale and Oxford ... Auburn highway painting project! :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mass sliding in energy efficiency rating

Link. Link2 for the report.

Mostly because of delays in adopting new building codes and techniques

Also this - sounds like what Amory Lovins has been touting - energy efficiency

“Energy efficiency is the quickest, cheapest, cleanest way to cut our energy costs," said Ian Bowles, secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, in a statement. "When we tap its full potential, we will protect consumers, reduce our environmental impacts and grow our clean energy sector.”

Get your kids the flu shot

New advice is for all children up to age 18 to get the flu shot.

According to this article, half the children who died from flu were aged 5-17. They also found that staph in conjunction with flu resulted in more difficult to treat complications.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Just wanted to plug this - it's kind of a barter/exchange via web. It works by using a Yahoo group. Here's the website.

You get messages about offers or wanted items in your area - the Worcester one is pretty active - maybe 50 messages a day easily. Here's the pointer to the Worcester freecycle group with instructions.

You need a Yahoo mail account, which is easy and free to setup. It can be addictive though! Don't end up with a bunch of stuff you don't need now! ;)

Friday, October 3, 2008

A sad loss - my condolences

Deanna Goggins, former head of the Auburn District Nursing died this week.

My aunt who works as a home health aide knew and always spoke highly of her. She served the community in so many areas for a long time and will be missed!

100-175 MPG with this aftermarket plugin mod for Prius

Interesting product ... kind of expensive though ($10K).


From the site:

* Designed for Toyota Prius, model years 2004 – 2008
* ~ 5 kWh pack
* 5.5 hour charge time
* ~ 180 pounds
* Up to 100 mpg for 30-40 miles within electrically assisted driving range

* Meets strictest emissions standards in U.S.
* Crash tested to federal new vehicle standards
* $9995 – includes 3 year standard warranty and installation