Saturday, July 25, 2015

MA gas tax is just below National average

Summer time is drive time for many to travel for their vacations. Driving uses gasoline and gas prices vary state to state. What portion of the price variation is actually due to the state taxes? The American Petroleum Institute publishes a report on the state taxes and calculates a national average.

The MA total gas tax is 26.54 cents and including the Federal tax (18.4), the total per gallon is 44.94 cents. The national average is 48.88 cents.

Here is a summary report on gasoline and diesel taxes. This report is updated quarterly. API collects motor fuel tax information for all 50 states and compiles a report and chart detailing changes and calculating a nationwide average. 
API's chart reflects a weighted average for each state, meaning that any taxes which can vary across a state's jurisdiction are averaged according to the population of the local areas subject to each particular tax rate. Where appropriate, the weighted average also takes into consideration the typical percentages of premium, midgrade, and regular fuel purchased in each state. 
In states where taxes vary depending upon the price of the motor fuel (for example, where the tax rate is set as a percentage of the sales price rather than a cents per gallon method), the state average listed on the chart is a snapshot based upon the price of fuel (as reported by AAA) on the date the chart is updated. Be sure to also look at the "Notes" attachment for a detailed explanation of the various taxes included in our chart.

screen grab of API gas tax map
screen grab of API gas tax map

You can find the full report here

the interactive map here

and the MA data here:

IRS and Police fund raising scams top the listing for June 2015

The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation compiles publicly available scam, identity theft, and fraud complaints from around the Commonwealth via police logs, news outlets, and other sources, as well as through the Office’s Consumer Information Hotline.

scam log analysis by MA Office of Consumer Affairs
scam log analysis by MA Office of Consumer Affairs

IRS and police related phone scams top the listing for June 2015. The scam log analysis article provides some tips on how to recognize that the phone call maybe attempting to swindle you for a police related fund raising effort. 

Tips to spot police phone scams

  1. If you do receive a call from the police department asking for donations for their annual fundraising efforts, they will not be demanding or put you in a high pressure situation. If you find yourself in a high-pressure situation, be skeptical, and do not be afraid to just hang up.
  2. If you are told that the money is for local police associations, ask what associations they are for. If you do not recognize any of them, ask to call them back so you can do your homework and find out about the associations yourself. You should also consider contacting the actual police department, which can verify what associations they support.
  3. If you are told that the money is to aid an on-going investigation or department advertising, be skeptical. Hang up and call the actual police department to see if they can verify where all of their fundraising efforts go to.
Follow the link to read the full article to find out how to recognize other phone scams and what to do if you receive one.

Franklin Cultural Festival - Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 and One Acts

Franklin Performing Arts Company (FPAC) presents the 2015 Whatever Theater Festival, running from Wednesday, July 29 to Saturday, August 1. The 8th annual festival features Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 and a presentation of One Acts, an eclectic series of one-act plays. All performances are free of charge, with donations to FPAC gratefully accepted.

Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 1
One Acts will be performed on July 29 at 8:30 p.m. and again on August 1 at 7:30 p.m. at THE BLACK BOX, located at 15 West Central Street in downtown Franklin.
An abridged version of Henry IV, Part 1 will be staged on Franklin Town Common (High Street) on July 30 and 31 at 8 p.m. Shakespeare’s masterful history play and coming-of-age story is filled with mischievous revelry and engaging characters set amidst rebellious battle.
Saturday’s performance of One Acts will be followed by the Whatever Theater Festival SoireĆ©, a fun and informal presentation of unusual talents.
Conceived and directed by Nick Paone, FPAC’s Whatever Theater Festival brings together professional artists, FPAC alumni, students and community performers in a collaborative theatrical experience that showcases an exciting range of dramatic and comedic works.
This year’s Whatever Theater Festival will be part of the first annual Franklin Cultural Festival, hosted by the Franklin Cultural District Committee. The visual, performing and culinary arts celebration will take place at various downtown Franklin locations within the proposed Cultural District from Wednesday, July 29 to Sunday, August 2.
FPAC’s 2015 Whatever Theater Festival is sponsored in part by grants from the Franklin and Norfolk Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. For more information, call (508) 528-3370 or visit and

The full schedule of performances and events for the first annual Franklin Cultural Festival can be found here

Schedule subject to change, any changes will be updated as soon as known

Friday, July 24, 2015

Upcoming Events in Franklin, MA Area: FRI 7/24/15 - THU 7/30/15

FRI 7/24   12-6pm   Franklin Farmers Market at The Town Common
FRI 7/24   1pm   Sciencetellers - Super Heroes at Franklin Public Library
FRI 7/24   6:30pm   Art Night Uncorked at Franklin Art Center
FRI 7/24   7pm   FREE Shakespeare: Taming of the Shrew at Dean College (on the Quad, rain location: Dean Hall Chapel)
FRI 7/24   8-9:50pm   Frozen Friday DJ Public Skate at Pirelli Arena
FRI 7/24   8pm   Kenny Hadley Big Band at The Black Box

SAT 7/25   8:30am   Franklin Yoga and Wellness: SUP Yoga on Beaver Pond
SAT 7/25   2pm   FREE Shakespeare: Taming of the Shrew at Dean College (on the Quad, rain location: Dean Hall Chapel)
SAT 7/25   7pm   FREE Shakespeare: Taming of the Shrew at Dean College (on the Quad, rain location: Dean Hall Chapel)

MON 7/27   1-2pm   Drop In Craft at Franklin Public Library
MON 7/27   6-8pm   Southeastern MA Community Concert Band and Ice Cream Social at Franklin Senior Center (call to sign up)

TUE 7/28   10:30am   Get Ready for Kindergarten (ages 3-5) at Franklin Public Library
TUE 7/28   1pm   Tree Identification on the Lawn, Franklin Public Library

WED 7/29   10:30am   Terrific Toddlers (18 months to 3 years) at Franklin Public Library
WED 7/29   1pm   Franklin Cultural Festival: Pumpernickel Puppets - Peter Rabbit at Franklin Public Library
WED 7/29   6pm   Franklin Cultural Festival: Opening Ceremony at The Town Common
WED 7/29   6:30-8:30pm   Concerts on the Common: Electric Youth
WED 7/29   6-8:30pm   Zentangle Class 101 at Jane’s Frames
WED 7/29   8:30pm   Franklin Cultural Festival: FPAC One Acts at The Black Box

THU 7/30   10am-6pm   FSPA Open House for prospective students and families
THU 7/30   10:30am   Story and Craft (ages 3-6) at Franklin Public Library
THU 7/30   1pm   Teen and Adult Beading Workshop at Franklin Public Library
THU 7/30   7pm   Franklin Cultural Festival: Ben Gardner’s Boat Band at The Black Box
THU 7/30   8pm   Franklin Cultural Festival: Shakespeare on The Common

For all the Town of Franklin Public Meetings click HERE.

For event details click HERE.

For library event details click HERE.

For Franklin Cultural Festival event details click HERE.

*If you have any suggestions or events for the calendar, please email

Davis Thayer modular units to be removed

The Davis Thayer modular units are supposed to be removed this summer. Walking by on Wednesday I saw equipment was being positioned to start the work. As this is posted, they may already be gone.

equipment positioned to remove the modular units
equipment positioned to remove the modular units

I went to the recent archive of photos from walking around to capture the 'old' look. Once they are removed and the ground re-seeded, I'll share some photos so we can see the before and after comparison,

Davis Thayer modular units - 1
Davis Thayer modular units - 1

Davis Thayer modular units - 2
Davis Thayer modular units - 2

Davis Thayer modular units - 3
Davis Thayer modular units - 3

Davis Thayer modular units - 4
Davis Thayer modular units - 4
There were 2 classrooms within the modular units as I recall from a tour of the school in 2012. I'll go further into the archive to find and share photos of the inside.

Get your copy of the 1st Annual Franklin Cultural Festival brochure!

The 1st Annual Franklin Cultural Festival starts on Wednesday, July 29 and runs through Sunday, August 2. 

Arts Happen Here! - Franklin Cultural Festival
Arts Happen Here! - Franklin Cultural Festival

This one page (two sided print) tri-fold brochure gives you a handy copy of all the info of what, when, and where the events of the Festival will take place.

If you have a mobile device, you can check out the webpage or Facebook. If you would like the hard copy, the Festival team put one together for you.

You can download and print on your own!

You can make your copy from here

or from here

Check the webpage for any updates (especially in case of weather)

"protect yourself from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous competitive suppliers or brokers by understanding your choices and knowing your rights as a consumer"

The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation has a good post on how to understand the electricity marketplace and make good decisions. 

They provide a list of questions to ask to help set up a proper comparison of the rates and services so you can make a good choice.

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation

"Comparing Plans
Although promotional offers may be appealing, there are a number of factors that may affect the amount you will actually end up paying for your electricity.  It is important to review your options and compare them to the local utility company’s basic service before switching.  Asking the following questions can help you make an informed decision.
  1. Are the energy prices (rates) fixed, or will they change throughout the term?  If your energy consumption is consistent, fixed rate plans will offer less variation in your monthly bill.  Variable rate plans, however, fluctuate more often because the rates can change by the hour, day or month, etc., according to the terms and conditions in the competitive supplier’s disclosure statement.
  2. What is the length of the contract?  Consider how long you will be locked- in to the contract and what that means in conjunction with the rates.
  3. Is there an initiation/transfer charge?  If there is an initiation fee, you could be paying more.
  4. Does the contract contain an introductory price?  If your contract contains an introductory price, then your supply cost may increase substantially after the introductory pricing period ends.
  5. Are there minimum bill amounts?  If so, consider whether you consistently use the minimum amount of power.
  6. Are there cancellation fees?  Consider whether you will have to pay a cancellation fee or other fees at cancellation whether or not you terminate the contract before its expiration date.  It is common to pay early termination fees if you cancel the contract before it expires.
  7. How does renewal work?  Consider that if you do not make a decision to renew or cancel a contract within the permitted period the competitive supplier may renew your contract and change its terms.
  8. What is the price per kWh?  Calculating your usual monthly kWh consumption times the price per kWh will help you compare supply cost.
  9. What is included in the price per kWh?  If you can find out how the company sets its rates, you can make a more informed decision."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Franklin Library: Sciencetellers Super Heroes

"In this original collection of slightly twisted tales, all the teachers at school are suspected to have superpowers! Join us on a hilarious new adventure where, just like in science, things aren't always quite what they seem. We will launch things through the air, send them plummeting toward the ground, and even make matter transform and disappear right before your eyes! 
Throw on your labcoat and buckle in — you are about to experience forces and reactions through several exciting, hands-on experiments that will have you laughing, learning and having fun. Savor each endearing adventure and find yourself transported to a special place where 'super' heroes truly do exist!"

"Super Heroes"  --- Length: 45 minutes. Grades: K–5.

Franklin Library: Sciencetellers Super Heroes
Franklin Library: Sciencetellers Super Heroes
Note: the sign is wrong in that Davey the Clown is Friday, the 31st
Note: the sign is wrong in that Davey the Clown is Friday, the 31st

This was shared from the Franklin Library page here

"Let’s stop measuring fish by how well they climb trees"

Joshua Katz is a high school math teacher in Orange County, FL. Of all the TED talks I have seen, this is one of the best. 

Joshua's Talk:
In the mid 1800's, Horace Mann captured the potential impact of education on society. We have yet to realize the potential he saw, and in fact, we are missing the mark by a wider and wider margin. We have created a "Toxic Culture of Education" in our country that is damaging students, impacting our economy, and threatening our future. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, we have embraced a culture of high stakes testing and are perpetuating a false sense of failure in our schools. We have ignored research and data on effective policy making practices in order to serve the interest of private industries that have monetized our students. The impact is being felt in communities, on college campuses, and in our economy. The solution lies in a common sense approach to student development, curriculum choice, career exploration, and relevant data analysis. This talk will present a vision of an education system that allows us to embrace our full potential if we only had the courage to ask "Why Not"?

The full transcript for Joshua's talk can be found here

Downtown Project Update #7

July 21, 2015

Work will continue on Main Street replacing the sidewalks near the Town Common as well as finishing Emmons Street and Summer Street sidewalks. 
They plan to start working on West Central between Emmons and Union Street after that. Work will continue on light poles and traffic light bases. 
If anyone has a questions please feel free to reach out to the DPW Director, Brutus Cantoreggi or Town Engineer, Michael Maglio at 508-553-5500 or Jeffrey Nutting, Town Administrator at 508-520-4949.

new sidewalk in front of Dean College
new sidewalk in front of Dean College

new period light base
new period light base

new sidewalk in front of the Ginley Funeral Home
new sidewalk in front of the Ginley Funeral Home

sidewalk work in progress on corner of Main and School Sts
sidewalk work in progress on corner of Main and School Sts

one of the problem light poles on West Central St.
one of the problem light poles on West Central St. 

This was shared from the Franklin webpage here

Senator Spilka: It's Time for Action on Women's Health, Equality and Opportunity

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Dear Friend,

Massachusetts is a beacon of equality and justice. It's time that we live up to those values by taking action on equal pay, women in leadership and women's health.

Yesterday, I testified before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development in strong support of my Women on Boards Resolution and the Equal Pay Bill, bills to encourage equitable and diverse gender representation on boards of directors in Massachusetts and to help bridge the gender wage gap.  

I also testified before the Joint Committee on Financial Services on my bill to protect access to confidential health care, the PATCH Act.
Women on Boards
The Women on Boards Resolution is a non-binding resolution to encourage companies to increase the number of women on their boards of directors and in their senior management ranks. California and Illinois have passed similar resolutions to improve gender diversity on boards in those states.

We need to help create a pipeline for female leaders and open doors for more women. We need to empower all women to make their voices heard. This is not a women's issue. This is a business issue and an economic development issue. The future of the Massachusetts economy depends on bringing the best talent to the table.

The positive effects of greater diversity on boards are well-documented, yet the representation of women in leadership remains low. Women hold 14.9% of board seats and 11.8% of executive officer positions in the 100 largest public companies in Massachusetts. 24 of these companies have no women on their boards, 46 have no women executive officers and 19 have no women on their boards of directors or in their executive suites.

Thank you to 2020 Women on Boards, the Alliance for Business Leadership and other advocates for your work on this important issue. Thank you especially to local business leaders who joined me at the hearing to share firsthand how their companies have embraced diversity on their boards: Bennie Wiley, President of The Wiley Group; Bob Rivers, President and Chief Operating Officer at Eastern Bank; Javier Barrientos, Senior Director, Global Diversity and Inclusion at Biogen; and Kevin Maggiacomo, President and CEO of Sperry Van Ness.

Immediately following the hearing, the Committee reported favorably on the Women on Boards Resolution, moving the bill along in the legislative process.
Equal Pay
Equal pay for equal work should be a no brainer. Women working hard to support their families deserve fair pay. It is time for action to bridge the gender wage gap and ensure equal pay. It is time for equality and opportunity for all women.

In Massachusetts, women who work full time earn approximately 80.8% of men's earnings. A report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research projects that the gender wage gap will not close on its own until 2058.

In the mid-1980s, one of my first jobs was in the state's Office of Employee Relations working on the issues of comparable worth and pay equity. It's very disappointing that almost thirty years later, we still have work to do on these issues. If we do nothing, a girl born today would be 43 years old when the pay gap finally closes. That is nearly 70 years of inequality and injustice.

The Equal Pay Bill seeks to bridge the wage gap in three main ways: ensure equal pay for comparable work, establish pay transparency and require fairness in hiring practices.

In advance of the hearing, I joined Attorney General Maura Healey, State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, legislators, the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators and the Equal Pay Coalition at a rally to highlight the importance of the Equal Pay Bill.  

Click here to watch a video from the rally. My remarks are at the 14:45 mark. 
The Joint Committee on Financial Services heard testimony on a variety of bills related to women's health, including my  PATCH Act, which aims to protect patient confidentiality by requiring personal health information on Explanation of Benefits forms to be sent directly to patients, safeguarding the privacy of people who are dependents on another person's health plan.

Patient confidentiality is a foundational element of the patient-provider relationship. Unfortunately, victims of abuse or minors are often reluctant to seek certain types of treatment, fearing that their abuser or parent will learn these details. This bill would ensure that all patients have confidential access to the health care they need.  

Click here to listen to my testimony at the hearing.

Thank you to my colleagues in the legislature and all advocates and constituents for making your voices heard on these important issues for women, families and the Commonwealth.

It's time for equality, justice and opportunity for all women!

As always, if you would like additional information or have any concerns or comments, please call my office at (617) 722-1640 or email me at

Warm Regards,
Senator Karen E. Spilka
2nd Middlesex and Norfolk

Office of State Senator Karen E. Spilka
Room 212, State House
Boston, Massachusetts  02133
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Senator Karen E. Spilka | Massachusetts State House, Room 212 | Boston | MA | 02133

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"The Taming of the Shrew" in the open on the Dean quad Fri, Sat, and Sun

The best way to experience Shakespeare is to see a performance in person. To see an outdoor performance is an opportunity that is rapidly approaching for folks here in Franklin.

The Star Players of MA is collaborating with Dean College to perform "The Taming of the Shrew" in the open on the Dean quad.

This free performance is scheduled for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday before the Franklin Cultural Festival kicks off July 29th.

  • Friday, July 24 - 7:00 PM 
  • Saturday, July 25 - 7:00 PM 
  • Sunday, July 26 - 2:00 PM

The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew
Photos from dress rehearsal

Taming of the Shrew #1
Taming of the Shrew #1

Taming of the Shrew #2
Taming of the Shrew #2

Taming of the Shrew #3
Taming of the Shrew #3
In case of the rain, the performance will move inside to the Chapel in Dean Hall.

For a quick recap of "The Taming of the Shrew" check the wikipedia entry here

Franklin Cultural Festival - Sunday Stage Performances - Aug 2

The Circle of Friends Coffeehouse will set up stage outside THE BLACK BOX to provide a round of good music Sunday, Aug 2 from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Circle of Friends Coffeehouse
Circle of Friends Coffeehouse

Also around the parking lot at the same time will be the 8 restaurants offering a "Taste of Franklin" with a $2.00 minimum for 1 signature taste. You can sample from: 3, BAMBOO HOUSE,  ELIZABETH’S BAGELS, MAC DELI, THE CAKE BAR, THE CURRY HOUSE, THE ROME, and the UNION STREET GRILL 

Carolyn Waters - website 

Carolyn Waters
Carolyn Waters
Stefilia's Stone - website

Stefilia's Stone
Stefilia's Stone

Jamie Barrett (Franklin music teacher) - website

Jaime Barrett
Jaime Barrett

Jesse Hanson - website

Jesse Hanson
Jesse Hanson

Kim Jennings  (originally from Franklin) - website

Kim Jennings
Kim Jennings
Lydia Warren - website
Lydia Warren
Lydia Warren
Schedule subject to change, any changes will be updated here as soon as known 

The full schedule of performances and events for the first annual Franklin Cultural Festival can be found here

THE BLACK BOX Summer Concert Series presents The Kenny Hadley Big Band

THE BLACK BOX Summer Concert Series Jazz in July 


The Kenny Hadley Big Band

Friday, July 24, 2015
8:00 PM

Kenny Hadley Big Band
Kenny Hadley Big Band

The critically acclaimed 16-piece juggernaut, led by drummer Kenny Hadley, boasts masterful musicians with performance ties to Big Band legends Woody Herman, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich and more. The Kenny Hadley Big Band has shared the stage with such notables as the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra and has hosted guest soloists including Clark Terry and Louie Bellson. 

Click here for Tickets

Tickets will also be available at the door

Cash Bar for Beer and Wine

Franklin Performing Arts Company uses Vendini for ticketing, marketing, and box office management.

Franklin Performing Arts Company - PO Box 16, Franklin, MA, 02038, (508) 528-8668
Vendini, Inc. - 660 Market Street, San Francisco, CA, 94104, 1 (800) 901-7173

View as a web page.

MassBudget: Massachusetts Third in Nation for Child Well-Being, But Many of Our Children Face Difficult Challenges

  MASSBudget     Kids Count

Massachusetts Third in Nation for Child Well-Being, But Many of Our Children Face Difficult Challenges       
Children in Massachusetts lead the nation in educational achievement, and are at or near the top in a number of measures of health, but one in six children live in poverty and an increasing number of our children are growing up in very high poverty neighborhoods. These findings and detailed data on a wide array of measures of child well-being are presented in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book released today.

The Data Book contains significant good news, particularly on education. In addition to our children leading the nation in reading and math proficiency, we are making real progress on reducing the number of students dropping out. Now 14% of our students don't graduate on time - that's too many, but it's down from 18% on 2008. But we remain a long way from providing each of our children with the support they need to succeed. For example, we lead the nation in the share of our children who are proficient in reading by fourth grade. But still more than half of our students - 53% - are not reading proficiently by fourth grade. We know that our economy and our society are stronger when every child has the opportunity to thrive (more info: Roadmap to Expanding Opportunity). 

While Massachusetts ranks at the top in educational attainments and near the top in child health, on measures of family economic well-being we rank 17th. Raising the incomes of low and middle income families remains an important challenge for our Commonwealth (more info: The State of Working Massachusetts). The recent increase in the minimum wage, and the scheduled increases over the next two years should help - as will the likely to be enacted increase in the earned income tax credit. There is, of course, more that could be done to help working parents succeed in the workforce be better able to support and nurture their children. Working parents need affordable child care, a transportation system that lets them get to work, and often education and job training to improve their skills. There is strong evidence that when the income of low wage families increases, their children are helped not just in the short term, but also in the long term: they do better in school and earn more as adults (more info: Massachusetts's Earned Income Tax Credit).

Read the 2015 Data Book HERE

See all of our Kids Count Resources HERE

BOSTON, MA 02108
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center | 15 Court Square | Suite 700 | Boston | MA | 02108