AllenN's blog

Thanks, President Obama

In six months, we will witness yet another Obama broken promise, this time in regard to letting Iran develop a nuclear weapon. Unfortunately, this may have even far more serious implications than Obamacare.

Most of us know the horrors of World War Two only through history books. There were many lessons learned during that conflict, including the dangers of appeasement and complacency. One of the lessons surely was the power of a strong leader to bring the world to near ruin. One man can make such a difference. In six or 12 months, that man is going to be the Ayatollah of Iran.

Tyranny of the majority (part three)

In Part One (http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/pool-party-quiz-part-one), we hypothesized a condo development where you were a board member and had to vote whether or not to approve building a new swimming pool against a vocal minority of residents. I asked you to decide how you would vote.

Pool quiz (part two)

In part one (http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/pool-party-quiz-part-one), we hypothesized a condo association that was contemplating installing a new swimming pool. Most residents were in favor and some were opposed. As a condo association board member, how would you vote? Please decide before reading further!

Pool party quiz (part one)

I am bothered by how our society makes decisions. We have elections and majority rules, but the majority seems to feel that the election should absolutely determine the policy. Think of the phrase "elections have consequences."

But we know that candidates are imperfect, policies are imperfect, and we often vote for candidates who have dozens of public positions (and hundreds of less visible positions). It would probably be impossible for any candidate to reflect even one citizen's views 100% of the time, let alone thousands or millions of voters.

My grandson, the custodian

By John H. Watson, M.D.

It's been several years since I've seen my friend Sherlock Holmes, a professional detective and student of human behavior. As many of my readers are aware, I have traveled with Holmes extensively and have had the good fortune of chronicling his most interesting and bizarre cases. I hope my accounts have done justice both to Holmes' skill as a detective and his desire to help his clients. Holmes often presents a gruff exterior but his highest calling is in helping others.

Obamacare Fallacies

You are probably sick of reading all of the Obamacare stories about the broken website and how few people have signed up so far. These problems are going to be fixed, because when you are giving stuff away for free, the government will find a way to make it happen.

Fifty reasons why John Henry should not own the Boston Globe

I am the occasional visitor to Boston.com, which is the website run by the Boston Globe. The Globe was recently purchased by John Henry, a wealthy investor who owns the Boston Red Sox. He just finalized the Globe purchase last week.

Even if you don't follow sports, you are probably aware that the Red Sox won the World Series on Wednesday night. You might think this is some miraculous finish, but every year (unless there is a player's strike) some team has to win the World Series. In fact, they play until someone wins. There are no ties in baseball.

There is no longer an Obamacare mandate

I am no fan of President Barack Obama because of his socialist agenda. I would never vote for him for that reason alone.

Yet I was proud that America had elected its first black president after so much racial strife and misery. I, too, hoped that it meant a new day both for the U.S. and the world. Certainly the initial outpouring of foreign support for Obama was very encouraging, but those hopes seem to have quickly faded as Obama has squandered much of that goodwill, like George W. Bush did right after 9/11.

Teachers and overhead

The Beacon reported on the recent school committee news, including two pieces that we should be aware of.

Syria and lying

Kerry dismissed numerous media reports from inside Syria that say the rebels are dominated by groups that are fundamentalist, fanatical, well-funded and increasingly entwined with al-Qaeda-style jihadi veterans. -- The Daily Caller (http://dailycaller.com/2013/09/04/kerry-insists-syrian-rebels-are-secular/)

It is quiz time

Part Two, Tattoo Tax or Subsidy

This will be a fun article! This is your chance to learn something about yourself, but only if you follow the instructions carefully and do NOT read ahead. You can do this from the privacy of your own home and do not need to share your results with anyone else.

Time to get out of Dodge

Now that the towns of Acton and Boxborough have approved the full regionalization of the schools, two-thirds of Acton's budget will be decided by a handful of individuals who believe that their job is to provide the best education money can buy to Acton kids. These individuals are all parents, they are all members of the Democratic party, and they are all eager to continue raising taxes so we can provide a wonderful educational experience for all children in Acton.

Acton forecast cloudy

So the summer of 2013 is almost officially over. School starts next week (before Labor Day, always a bit jarring), but this is great news for parents who have probably run out of things to do with their kids and are anxious to get back to their regular routine.

Acton's leaders have resurrected the agenda from last year--or maybe it was five years ago or 10 years ago--and propose moving forward on all the projects that have been previously rejected or postponed. The new motto of the Bored of Selectmen should be "If at first you don't succeed..."

The Bizarro Trial

I was watching a lot of the Zimmerman trial because I had spent some time in Florida and it was covered "live" on local TV. When I returned to Acton, I tuned in over the Internet and was able to see much of the trial. It was fascinating on many levels.

As most people now know after hearing the verdict, Zimmerman was not guilty. I figured that out very quickly, just listening to the prosecution's poor case, but there is so much uncertainty in the justice system (even when you are the defendant in a criminal case and presumed innocent) that anything could have happened.

Tattoo tax or subsidy

Part One of Two Parts.

I'm sure many have noticed the proliferation of tattoos. This used to be the province of sailors and hippies, but now it seems that a majority of people have decided on this self-decoration and they have gotten extremely popular. Even Acton has a tattoo parlor (and for the more adventurous, piercings.)

I am not in favor of taxing or subsidizing tattoo-wearers. What people want to do with their money and their body is their own concern. However, in debating national tax policy, one could argue for higher or lower taxes for tattooed taxpayers.

Do promises matter?

And does the intent of the promising party matter? And does the justification for the promise matter?

CASE ONE: Let's say you go to book a hotel for a week's holiday. You ask how much it is going to cost. They quote you $100 a night. You ask "is that the total charge?" and the answer is yes.

When you get the bill at the end, it is $125 per night. When you ask about the extra cost, you are told, "well, we just got our real estate tax bill and it went up unexpectedly, so we had to raise our rates. Sorry." Do you pay the new rate as indicated on the invoice?

Modern art explained

I hate modern art in general and my feelings were well reinforced by a recent and long article in the New York Times about this artist named Damien Hirst. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/arts/design/damien-hirsts-spot-paintin...)

Our first fair Town Meeting

Part Six of the series on Acton's Special Town Meeting of June 3, 2013 that approved expanded regionalization of Acton's schools.

MODERATOR: Let me call the meeting to order.

Welcome Acton voters to our Annual Town Meeting. I am pleased so many of you decided to make it. This is one of the largest crowds we've had in years, so thank you for coming here tonight and performing your civic duty of helping our town leaders make many of the important decisions we make together, as a town.

School Committee ready to approve two new union contracts

The Acton Public School Committee and the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee have completed contract negotiations with two school unions and are preparing to vote to approve the contracts at their next meeting, Thursday, June 20, 2013.

Conflict of interest taints Board of Selectmen endorsement of regionalization

Part five in my series on the June 3, 2013 Special Town Meeting which expanded our regional school district to include the Boxborough and Acton elementary schools.

Conflicts of interest in Acton abound. They are tolerated (and perhaps even encouraged) by our town leaders who seem unconcerned about these issues.

U.S. losing its entry-level jobs

The European economic malaise is caused largely by their generous social programs. Youth unemployment is running in the double-digits because the cost to hire entry-level workers is so high relative to their business benefit. Unfortunately, you can't legislate higher wages for low-wage workers who don't provide more value than their cost.

I predict this same trend will happen in the U.S. once Obamacare fully kicks in. This will be just one of the unintended consequences of trying to legislate improvements to fix perceived problems with capitalism.

New Info Bombshell

Part Four in a series on the Special Town Meeting of June 3, 2013 that approved full regionalization of the Acton schools.

I'm about halfway done with my series on the Special Town Meeting and the problems with how we run Town Meetings in Acton.

I could certainly jump to my concluding article about how to fix things, and I think I have some good ideas and suggestions. For those who have followed my articles and agree with my premise, that's probably what you think I should do next. For you, just skip the next two articles.

Misinformation at Acton Town Meeting

Part 3 in the series on the Special Town Meeting which approved full school regionalization

Dennis Bruce is one of the nicest guys you can meet, and a neighbor of mine. I like him and his family. Dennis is a relatively new member of the School Committee and is serving as the Chair of the Local Public Schools.

Town Meeting out of balance -- on purpose

PART Two on the Acton Special Town Meeting that approved expanded regionalization of the schools.

On June 3, 2013, Acton Town Meeting approved the full regionalization of its schools with Boxborough. The vote was about 350 to 200.

I used to support regionalization as a concept, but when I learned more of the details and considered the long-term implication, my mind changed. It didn't happen overnight. It certainly didn't happen in two hours. And it would be impossible to have happened in "eight minutes" (a significant number as shown below.)

Town leaders don't understand role of Town Meeting

Acton's town leadership does not understand the role or function of Town Meeting in our local government. This was evident at the recent Town Meeting on June 3, 2013 to expand regionalization.

In a series of upcoming articles, I will be delving into this Meeting to explain what went wrong and why our process is broken. I hope to help future town leaders recognize why this needs to be fixed. The current and recent crop of town leaders already knows about the problem and has repeatedly declined to fix it. To them, Town Meeting works just fine, thank you very much.