Monday, December 29, 2008

Reading frenzy

I appreciate all the suggestions I got for mystery writers to check out. I'm also grateful that we have not one but two sources of used books in our fair city.

Three, if you count Melanie, the leader of our writing group, who has started a book exchange within the group. So far, I'm not sure any of her books have gone beyond me, but c'est la vie!

My mother gave me this tome (734 pages, counting the acknowledgments) as a Christmas gift. I read the entire book over the weekend. It was that engrossing.

The name of this novel is The Hour I First Believed, and it was written by Wally Lamb.

I'm not usually a big fan of "slice of life" type books - this was more of a chunk, though - or books in which a whole lot of bad and/or miserable things happen to the main character. And man, this book has a lot of bad and/or miserable things, including horrors of the Civil War, Columbine High School and Hurricane Katrina.

But the characters were so wonderfully written that I still was thinking about them at 2:15 a.m. today, 15 minutes after I closed the book on the 734th page and should have been snoozing away.

Back and forth the story went, unwinding this man's present, his past and his future. (This explains the Civil War bit.)

Wow. Now I have to run to one or both of our book stores that sell used books to see if I can find his other novels, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True. I'm already intrigued, since one of my favorite Guess Who songs is "She's Come Undone," and "I know this much is true" are lyrics from a Spandau Ballet song in the 80s.

This title, I have come to understand, is a line from "Amazing Grace."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Merry


Happy wishes and thank you to everyone who reads my little blog.

God bless us, every one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Give me a good (fictional) murder

I'm a big fan of mysteries (as reading material). It's always a challenge to find a good mystery writer because there are so many writers who take the easy street.

To wit (whit?), there is the old "I know something relevant, but for some perverse reason, I'm not going to tell anyone" gambit.

If the person (in the book) actually spilled the information they are withholding, the mystery would only last for 100 pages instead of 274, or whatever.

I hate that one.

Then there's the old, "I knew I was missing something (or had just heard something really relevant), but I just couldn't think what." The character then moves on to sleep, or do laundry and the little something niggling the back of their brain magically disappears until the end of the book.

I know that when I can't think of something, I never let it keep me from sleeping or anything.

I don't buy that one.

Over the weekend, I was reading a mystery by Mary Higgins Clark, a very famous writer.

She employed both these devices, and more. Gee, I know they are relevant, but I just can't think of them right now. Oh, well. I'll think about it tomorrow.

I was very annoyed, especially since these lapses are frequently displayed by a female protagonist.

Personally, I like Ruth Rendell, or her alter ego, Barbara Vine, although even she seems to be on a downswing. My favorite of late is The Chimney Sweep's Boy.

I have been working on a mystery/suspense book for about 12 years now. It's not easy to avoid using these plot devices (or the one used by Patricia Cornwell, where she does not introduce the person who is the killer until nearly the end of the book).

What I can't do is write all that filler - what the sky looks like, what everyone is wearing (heavy cream silk blouses are popular) and other stuff like that. My eyes just gloss over the fluff, anxious to get back to the action.

Except in the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. Her fluff is usually pretty funny.

If you're still shopping for someone who's a mystery buff, stick with Rendell (Vine), Evanovich, or Sue Grafton. Old P.D. James is also stellar.

If you have some favorites, let me know. I need my good mysteries as much as I need my lattes.

Goodnight and have a socially relevant day tomorrow.

Sorry.

A bird in the sky

Does anyone know why there was a heliocopter hovering over what looked like Newbury or Rowley this morning? It wasn't the beach, since I first saw it while still on the island.

It was definitely hovering somewhere southwest of PI and east of Rte. 1.

I should have chased it down, huh? Too bad, I needed my latte (and visit my mum).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Weather woes

I just returned from downtown, and I'm still shaking ... the roads out here are better than the ones in the city. The roads in Newbury are better than the ones in the city.

But that's not what left me shaking. It was the 'excitement' of the Green St. municipal parking lot. I mean really, why is it always such a big mess after it snows? If cars park there overnight, they should be towed (as far as I know, it isn't a designated overnight snow parking lot - but I could be wrong).

Several near-collisions later, I fled back to the island where sanity reigns. (Until I got to my street, where my elderly neighbor decided to pull into a side street and then back out again without checking to see if any other vehicle was approaching. That would have been my Jetta.)

And then there are the sidewalks downtown, which are alternately clear and ice covered, especially State St.

So far it's been a bad day. I have no water, the city came out and said the line is clear to the meter, so .... yay.

Dec. 19, 2007

I meant to post this actually on Dec. 19. This is the view from the front door of the cottage, one year ago.

Things look pretty much the same now, except that my car is over there across the street. They never get the drifts that I get, and neighbor has gone out of state for the holidays (she gave me permission to use the spot).

Earthquake

I was outside heading to the car when I heard the bang. I thought for sure the ocean had breached the dunes and was on its way over here.

Soon after, I was on my way into town, and I noticed people driving around, seemingly aimlessly. But since I saw no flood, it kind of went to the back of my mind until much later, when I again wondered what it had been.

I'm not sure whether it's a relief that it was "just" an earthquake. Read about it here, in the Daily News.

Friday, December 19, 2008

New Ventures info from Everett

A message from MassDee, in Everett:

Just a heads up.

Everett's Board of Alderman, on Monday Dec 22nd will be ordering the city's Board of Health to place a Cease and Desist Order on Wood Waste/Thibeault.

Also, at that same meeting, the mayor will be presenting a consent order to allow Wood Waste to move his piles to another location in Everett, to be shipped out by rail to the mid west.

The residents are against this. Wood Waste will then be operating out of two sites in Everett.

If the consent order passes, it would take off the table Wood Waste trucking the debris to Crow Lane for the immediate future.

I will update you after the meeting on Monday.

Thanks, MassDee.

Another Christmas story

Every Christmas Eve we would drive to Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Bud's house. It was the tradition - and the way we exchanged gifts with my dad's family (sister Sylvia and other sister Mildred and families).

It wasn't very far, but every year I would worry that someone would break into our house and steal all the really good gifts under our tree, at home.

Isn't it just too cool that my Christmas memories involve worry?

Anyway ... we'd get to Aunt Sylvia's, where it was always about 85 degrees. I think we wore shorts and T-shirts.

She always had these gigantic trees with equally gigantic ornaments and lights. I recall a string of some kind of plastic cylinder with a whirlygig inside that rotated with the heat from the light. It was kind of fascinating, actually.

She was also the first person in the family to get a color TV. Well, she and Uncle Bud (he was the one who shot his dog in the ass while hunting, from some random story I told months ago).

We always had overcooked turkey and scalloped potatoes from Aunt Mildred that had unidentifiable black bits in it.

Aunt Mildred had 3 children who turned Jehovah's Witness. At first they would appear on Christmas Eve and lecture us about the fallacy of the celebration. Then they stopped coming altogether, which was a drag in one way but not in other ways.

Aunt Sylvia died a few years back - on Christmas Day.

We hadn't had the Christmas Eve get together for years because she and Uncle Bud had moved 'up north' (northern Michigan) and then my immediate family all moved out here. Uncle Bud had died a few years before.

But I do remember a later Christmas Eve, at Aunt Mildred's house. All I remember is watching a video of The Nutcracker ballet featuring Michail Baryshnikov, and Aunt Mildred commenting about his ... well, let's just say it was surprising, but hilarious.

P.S. No one has sent me a Christmas memory. I'm going to have to start making them up soon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Writers rule, man


What do you actually know about this dude Santa Claus? Do you believe, like many people do about marriage, that he has been around forever?

Is anyone else alarmed by the notion that he "sees you when you're sleeping?" Why does he need to see you when you're sleeping, I have to ask myself?

A long time ago I interviewed an exchange student from Denmark who had exchanged her life in that scenic country for one year in Flint.

It was a Christmas story, but without digging out the relevant issue of East Village Magazine from a box under my bed, I only remember one thing: her family would put out some bizarre food like custard for their version of Santa, and that she said the mice ate it all.

Maybe the life in Denmark wasn't all that great if there were all those mice running about eating the custard.

I find it interesting that a lot of the things people believe, or at least lie to their kids about, come from pagan rites. (I don't blame people for telling their kids that there's a Santa Claus, by the way; I think it's a good thing.)


In the British colonies of North America and later the United States, British and Dutch versions of the gift-giver merged further. For example, in Washington Irving's History of New York, (1809), Sinterklaas was Americanized into "Santa Claus" but lost his bishop's apparel, and was at first pictured as a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with a pipe in a green winter coat. Irving's book was a lampoon of the Dutch culture of New York, and much of this portrait is his joking invention. (Source: Wikipedia)
Oh that Washington Irving - what a jokester.

Santa as the jolly old elf only became popular in the U.S. after the guy who wrote The Night Before Christmas described him, in the 19th century (1823). The word "elf" and the fact that he slips down the chimney implies that he was less than what we consider full sized (no offense intended to my elfin readers).

So if you read the entire Wikipedia entry, you could believe that good ol' Santy is actually quite goat-like.

Surprisingly, not everyone in the world "thinks" Santa lives at the North Pole. Why would you tell your kids that he lives 2 streets over? Hmmmm?

Whatever the origin, or the case, the legend of Santa Claus has become quite the advertising icon. And he's probably been around longer than the institution of marriage.

Wow, wait til you find out about the Christmas tree (if you don't know already).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas stories

I'm running out of my own Christmas stories, so anyone who has a good one should send it along to me. Please?

I'll publish it anonymously, if you so desire.

"I like the Tinman"

OK, so I've got these three friends that I used to work with at New England Medical Center, in the 1980s: we are each a "Miss," although the others are - or were - married.

Miss Donna, Miss Jean, Miss Katie and me, Miss Gill.

We meet once a year, usually right before Christmas. Our last meeting was Dec. 8. I won't go into the details of my torturous trip to Bedford, where Miss Katie and her family live. Suffice it to say that proximity to Lowell seems to have inhibited my ability to find places that I've been before.

Anyway ... this year, initially Miss Donna suggested we go shopping in Newburyport, which we've done in the past (before I lived here). She was going into raptures over the neat little stores we frequented in the past when I burst her little shopping bubble by telling her they were mostly all gone now.

Instead, Miss Jean and I met at Miss Katie's and carpooled it over to Miss Donna's in Walpole.

I was only an hour late, by the way. It wasn't my fault!

And then, of course, once on our way to Walpole we spotted a liquor store advertising a wine and cheese tasting ... Miss Katie screeched into the parking lot and we entered.

(Remind me to tell you about the 5 martini after-work get together at Zoots, if I haven't already.)

The point of all this is that Miss Katie and I were one day long ago in her boss' office. Her boss confessed to never having seen "A Christmas Story." After we recovered from our shock, we gave her a quick rundown of the plot.

We then informed her that she really should watch the movie.

She replied that she thought no matter how funny the movie was, our little presentation had to be way funnier.

Ah, those were the days ... actually, they weren't ... those were the moments.

These ladies are some of the only people I've ever known for this long (20 years, at least) who have not changed. Or perhaps we're only the same when we're together.

Miss Donna suggested I write a book about our adventures, and Miss Katie suggested "I like the Tinman" as the title of one of the chapters.

Just stick with diamonds

I was today lunching with a friend, and I mentioned that I have these pearl earrings that I never wear.

Why not? she asked.

Well, they came with a whole instruction manual about what not to do with one's pearls. It was scary.

I don't know where the manual is, so I got the following from Pearl-Guide.com:

Because pearls are an organic gemstone, they are somewhat different from other gemstones and precious metals. They are softer and more delicate, and they can therefore be more easily scratched, cracked, and damaged. In addition, substances such as perfume and hair spray -- and even natural body oils and perspiration -- can dull pearls' luster or cloud their brilliance. For these reasons, your pearls may require a bit of special care.
Good grief.

My friend suggested that we stick with diamonds. You don't have to wipe off body oils, wrap them in a soft cloth, etc. They are indestructible, don't ya know?

The earrings are nice to look at every so often. I've worn them, I think, twice.

There comes a time when our possessions possess us, my friend concluded. Amen to that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Not a finga!

I would love to have A Christmas Story that is as entertaining as the movie of the same name. (Have you seen it? It's terrific.)

Sure, my parents once fooled me by putting my "most wanted" gift behind the curtains and then, after we opened presents and I was a tad disappointed, asked me to open the curtains.

It was a Beatles album.

I guess it must be a thing that parents do.

But my dad never swore at the furnace, nor did he receive a plastic leg lamp, complete with fishnet hose, as a "major award."

He did, however, 'appropriate' a sign from a Santa's village that read "Santa's Out to Lunch" because he thought it was so funny. It was forever after displayed as part of the Christmas regalia.

"Forever" means until it did not appear anymore. To be honest, I have not laid eyes on it for years. But I still recall it fondly, even though it was an ill gotten gain.

As far as I remember, we never had an Oldsmobile. And we always had - and still do have - roast beast with Yorkshire pudding and roasted potatoes for Christmas dinner. But we did have a lot of meatloaf throughout the year.

Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double beatloaf. I hate meatloaf.

More on paid parking

An interested party sent me the link to this video, which was on YouTube, about parking:

video

Think about this: how many times are you willing to drive down State or Pleasant St. - or the Green St. lot - before you give up and park on the river (which is also free, for all you non-residents).

With the state projecting a shortfall in 2009 for cities and towns, our city needs to boost its stream of revenue.

Free parking. I love it, but we've gotta leave it behind.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

All's quiet on the eastern front (for now)

Well, I'm back home. WOO HOO

The high tide was this morning, when the marsh was flooded - but I've seen worse. Still, I do believe there is still a storm barreling up the coast.

I drove up Northern Blvd. as far as Mad Martha's, to see if anything was afoot. All was calm, considering the wind and the rain. Pondered parking and going out onto the beach, but ... the rain.

So far in the last few weeks, the fence in the yard has blown down (again) and a window has been blown out in the shed. This is a rough environment.

Was it yesterday that it was 62 degrees? Or was that Tuesday? Whatever, it seems to be still above freezing at the moment.

Life on Plum Island: You never know what you're going to get - but when it comes, it's usually pretty dramatic. Boston was never this interesting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

City warning via Reverse 911

I received today (Wednesday) a Reverse 911 call telling me that an update for the "Plum Island situation" could be found on the city's website.

I checked the site, and lo and behold, there was a whole memo from the mayor talking about breaches of dunes and interruptions in water and sewer service.

Residents are asked to plan accordingly, considering that it will be necessary for the breach to be repaired before infrastructure repairs can take place.

No water and no sewer, you say? Wow. I guess my neighbor who refuses to be hooked up to the system knows what he's doing. And we've had the system over here for ... what? ... all of 6 months.

Actually, I'm not sure what effect a breach would have on the sewer system over here on this side of the island. I'm not familiar enough with how the vacuum system works - whether we are on a separate sucking section or whether is all one big suck. (Hey, if you heard it in your bathroom every day, you'd describe it as a "suck" as well.)

I'm also guessing that "vehicular access" won't be an issue over here - unless, of course, the ocean comes rushing across the basin, which is really shallow because of the increased sediment. In that case, we may be under water. Vehicular access really won't be an issue.

Astronomical high tides tomorrow, folks. I won't be here for most of the day. I'm praying I will be able to get back home tomorrow afternoon ...

Just a mention

I meant to write yesterday about the bizarre situations I encountered while driving into town: 2 separate traffic accidents.

The first was right around the corner from me, on Old Point Road. Don't see many accidents out here (on this side of the island). This one involved a sedan and a truck towing a trailer filled with firewood.

As a point, the only people who speed/drive recklessly around here are commercial entities. I'm not sure that's what happened here because it looked as if the sedan rear-ended the truck/trailer.

The second accident looked more serious and was on the curve near that clam shack on Water St. You know, the curve a lot of people claim is not dangerous.

Shit happens, but as someone who drives that curve nearly every day, it's a bitch. People coming from the direction of town frequently feel the need to take the curve in a wide arc. Maybe it's the presence of that small hill there on the right. What they fail to realize is that for the oncoming traffic, the presence of the river there on the right is much more daunting.

The good thing is, nobody ended up in the river. Someone did end up in an ambulance, however.

Worth a mention

Has anyone mentioned that the new tax rate in our fair city is $10.93? I haven't been keeping up with these things.

I see where Amesbury's Municipal Council has voted to return to a single tax rate for residential, commercial and industrial. From today's Daily News:

According to figures provided by the mayor's office, by shifting to the single rate, the tax bill for an average commercial business will go down $441 compared to last year. Under the split rate, commercial taxes would have then gone up $952.


Ummm, OK ...

Slim Chiply lives

This is - or was - Slim Chiply (the guy you see on the Paramount Potato Chips bright red pack). I don't expect you guys to understand the significance of Slim Chiply, or Paramount Potato Chips. I think they - and Slim - are long gone.

He is - or was - not just a potato chip; he is - or was - the Flavor Deputy (protecting crispness in every pack).

In the TV commercial, Slim would walk out with this odd bow-legged stride (how else would a potato chip walk?) and sing this song:

I'm Slim Chiply, the guy you see,
on the Paramount Potato Chips bright red pack.
I'm the flavor deputy,
protecting crispness in every pack.
They're delicious, and so nutritious,
yes sir'ee, they're pips!
Paramount Potato chips!!

It's a Flint thing ... just go with it.

Slim Chiply merchandise is now available online, here and here. If nothing else, it's good for a laugh ... where else are you going to see a potato chip dressed like a lawman?

(Thanks to Gordie Young of Flint Expatriates for the heads up.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In case you missed it: parking

Newburyport using federal funds for study on garage
By Gillian Swart
Globe Correspondent / October 12, 2008

Newburyport is using a $1,672,000 federal earmark from 2005 to plan for a paid parking garage in a city that has seen only free municipal parking for 40 years.

The Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority on Sept. 24 sent out on behalf of the city requests for proposals for preliminary engineering and site selection study for a downtown parking facility. The sites to be studied are surface parking lots at Prince Place and on Green Street, said city planning director Nancy Colbert.

Mayor John Moak in January told Chamber of Commerce members to expect paid parking, or at least a plan, this year.

The requests were sent out a week after the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority unveiled the latest plans to turn its two parking lots on the central waterfront into mostly park land.

Without 250 to 300 spaces on the waterfront, the mayor has said, the city will have a parking problem. In both plans presented at a public hearing Sept. 17, parking spaces would be reduced to 140 or fewer. Without the waterfront lots, the city has 327 off-street public parking spots.

"It's a considerable decrease in parking," Moak said. "We have to figure out what we have to do to replace parking they are moving off the central waterfront, if they can."

The redevelopment authority has acknowledged that it does not have the funds to pay for the project. Both the park and the potential parking garage are years down the road.

"This is a very preliminary step in a long journey," said transit authority administrator Joseph Costanzo.

The transit authority takes on these projects on behalf of cities and towns because it is a conduit to federal and state funding. "That's part of our role," he added.

The authority is working with Haverhill on site selection for a multi-level facility. Under such arrangements, the community signs a memorandum of understanding with the agency.

A portion of the $1,672,000 is in the transit authority's hands to cover fees for the consultant, Costanzo said. Congress will in 2009 be authorizing transportation funds for the next six years, and the $1,672,000 will cover the study and maybe up to final design of the project, if it moves forward, he added.

Moak hopes this will be the last of 12 parking and garage studies for the city, nine of which have been done since 1996, according to the RFP.

"There is a need for paid parking. We're trying to figure out the best way to do it," he said.
The RFP calls for, among other things, a review of the last nine reports, a land survey of the two targeted parcels, preliminary assessments, and a traffic survey relating to an intermodal parking facility, which is an interface between different transportation systems.

While the authority's plans are a component in planning the city's future parking needs, Colbert echoed the scope-of-work statement in the RFP that identifies a need for a "strong link" between the MBTA commuter rail station, the National Scenic Byway that may traverse the city, and integration of the first phase of the Clipper City Rail Trail, which is under construction.

"We're trying to incorporate as many types of transit as possible, as make sense with this facility," Colbert said.

Costanzo said that the preliminary study will also look at local transit proposals, such as adding a couple of bus routes in the city. "There's a whole lot of little things like that that can fit in the mix."

The central waterfront was cleared in 1968 as part of urban renewal and the lots were opened for public parking in the 1980s. Between the two NRA lots is Market Landing Park, which is operated by the Waterfront Trust. Proponents of an open waterfront, including the majority of residents who responded to surveys, support a park over parking lots.

"The lack of parking management is stifling us," said City Council president James Shanley, who was recently appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to the redevelopment authority.

Shanley supports alternative solutions to a garage that is not fully funded, citing empty bank parking lots that perhaps could be used during off hours or a plan where revenue from parking meters in an area is used to support infrastructure in that area.

Both the redevelopment authority and New England Development, the two major stakeholders on the waterfront, have called for a parking and traffic plan from the city.

The $1,672,000 earmark was part of the highway and mass transit bill titled the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, according to a July 2005 press release from US Representative John F. Tierney. Beverly and Salem received the same amount for similar parking garage projects

Oh mercy

It appears that people in Detroit have turned to divine intervention for a Big Three bailout. The story is from the New York Times.

We've got an inter-family mini-debate going on about whether the Big Three should be saved or allowed to slip into oblivion.

My one sister, who drives a Toyota Echo (I don't believe they make them anymore), is not entirely sure about a bailout. My second, youngest, sister thinks letting the automakers go under would be a disaster.

I found this interesting story from a January edition of Fortune, which was on CNNMoney.com. It's about so-called Echo Boomers.

Echo Boomers are generally described are those born between 1980 and 1994. There are a lot of them. More than four million children were born in 1989 - the largest number of births since 1964 - and even more in 1990.

Now aged 14 to 28, Echo Boomers are mostly motoring in used cars but soon will be in the market for new ones. Their arrival is driving a lot of planning in the auto industry -- and a fair amount of consternation as well ...

According to Erich Merkle, an analyst for Michigan-based IRN, Echo Boomers want affordable vehicles that are small and fuel efficient, and packed with electronics that can be linked with iPods and laptops.
So American automakers just kept making cars for these people's parents: SUVs, minivans, etc., while foreign automakers ... well, things got tough overseas long before they were here.

Last time I was in England, some 8-10 years ago now, I remember being floored by the price of gasoline (no pun intended).

If you watch a lot of TV, you'll notice that SUVs figure prominently. The only television character I can think of who drove a small, fuel efficient car was Larry David in "Curb Your Enthusiasm." He drove a Prius.

When I'm driving around town here, I wonder why anyone needs a Range Rover in Newburyport. But then, I always wondered why that person on Beacon Hill needed a Hummer.

It was the same 25 years ago, when a Jeep was the off-road vehicle of choice for roads.

Oh the joys of marketing and industry.

(By the way, that Echo is a bomb, in the good sense of the word. It's small but comfortable, has I think 8 different cubbies that are handy to the driver and usable cup holders - things sorely lacking in my Jetta. It's great to drive, too, with a poppy little clutch.)

New planning director

Oh ... and someone named Sean Sullivan has been hired to be the new planning director. Read about it here, from the Daily News.

The Council approved the appointment in one reading, which was an unusual move. Councillor Greg Earls questioned it, saying that in the past the public had the opportunity to question and/or comment such a high-level appointment.

But the Council isn't meeting again for 5 weeks, and the position is somewhat time sensitive (although not so much as when former director Nancy Colbert came on board).

Police contracts pass

What? No one from the Daily News at last night's City Council meeting?

I don't know, for sure ... I wasn't there ... but I did watch it on TV. Not quite the same, somehow.

The Council last night passed the $10,218 for the new patrolmen and superior officers' contracts that it had rejected last month.

I get the idea behind the rejection: it was all about the state health plan (the Group Insurance Commission, GIC) and a tiered Blue Cross/Blue Shield health plan. The latter won't save the city as much money as the GIC.

I thought Larry McCavitt made some interesting points, the first being that only 17% of communities in the state have actually been able to persuade their bargaining units to accept the GIC. Seventy percent of the bargaining unit membership and retirees in a community have to approve switching to the state plan.

But McCavitt also noted, and as is in today's Globe, that House Speaker Sal DiMasi is telling cities and towns to brace for a 10% cut in state aid in 2009.

Perhaps this news would have helped back when people were voting on the debt exclusion ...

Second in McCavitt's points is that the Council needs to re-think rejecting union contracts. As other councillors also noted, the city leaves itself open for potential law suits based on bad faith bargaining.

Plus, the police union is one of the smaller bargaining units, if I heard correctly. In any case, it can't be as large as the teachers' union.

Still and all, the unit members are only getting a 2% raise, which is pretty small, even in this day and age.

Mayor pulls landfill agreement off table

Mayor John Moak did not ask the City Council to consider the proposed agreement with New Ventures at last night's meeting.

Councillor Brian Derrivan told his fellows that it is "time to move forward in light of the DEP and AG's office showing some life."

I saw an email in the chain of emails that are sent around regularly by residents near the landfill to complain about the smell. This one was different - it was from a business on Graf Road (in the industrial park).

I think this is the first time I've seen a complaint by a business. This is even more serious because the city has been trying to lure companies to relocate their corporate headquarters into the industrial park.

Also, the DEP on Nov. 28 cited New Ventures for 12 more violations at the landfill. DEP Chief John Carrigan in his letter to NV attorney Chip Nylen said that he visited the site on Nov. 26 and the landfill gas collection and treatment system was not operational.

The AG's office has also filed for an expedited contempt trial (it was scheduled to begin April 23, 2009) because it says in part that New Ventures is causing damages to the environment that cannot wait five months to be addressed.

The Commonwealth is asking that the trial be scheduled for January. The motion was filed Nov. 26 and NV had 10 days to serve opposition to the motion ...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Surprise!

Here's something I bet you never thought you'd be reading on here - mostly because I never thought I'd be typing it:

I'm going back to the Current!

So now I can't blog about local news because of that, I would guess.

Which reminds me, I'm supposed to be working on a story.

NETCO workers legal, says president

Hey, for any of you who might have bought into reader X's bizarre contention that the workers placing sandbags on the Newbury town beach (Plum Island) are illegals, they are not.

David Lager, president of NETCO, said anyone who questions the status of his team is welcome to come to the office and check all employment documents.

The office is at 21 Worthen Rd. in Lexington.

No, I did not pursue this off the cuff - I met him at a meeting Friday, at PITA Hall. That's the Plum Island Taxpayers Association Hall for the non-locals.