Friday, August 19, 2022

Franklin's Event Outlook: Aug 19, 2022 to Aug 25, 2022

Where has the summer gone? The last big Farmers Market, Concert on the Common combination is this Friday. They close out with music, food, and "Spider-Man" movie.

Friday, August 19

2:00pm - Farmers Market (Town Common)
3:00pm - Concerts on the Common: Box Groove (Town Common)

3:30pm - Farmers Mkt Fun: Make your own compass (Town Common)

4:00pm - Food truck: Gotta Q Smokehouse BBQ (Town Common)

5:30pm - Concerts on the Common: Jesse Liam Band (Town Common)

6:00pm - Mike & Missy Music (live music)  (67 Degrees Brewery)

6:00pm - Steve Doglio (live music)  (La Cantina Winery)
7:50pm - Movie Night: "Spider-Man" (Town Common)

Saturday, August 20

10:00am - Franklin Historical Museum (always free)

4:00pm - David Rak (live music)  (La Cantina Winery)

6:00pm - Kendo Music  (live music)  (67 Degrees Brewery)

8:00pm - John Logan - Magic with The Beatles

Sunday, August 21

1:00pm - Franklin Historical Museum (always free)


The Franklin Art Association Art Gallery remains open during business hours at Escape into Fiction (Main St, Franklin)

If you have an event to add to the calendar, you can use the form to submit it for publication:

The Town meeting calendar is found
The School district calendar is found

Community Calendar
Community Calendar

Annual Report Of The Department Of Planning And Community Development - FY 2021

Note: FY 2021 is last year (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021). The report was prepared to cover the business for the FY 2021 period. This year’s report FY 2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) is in preparation now and is normally available for distribution at the polls for the November election.

The Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) maintains a professional staff that provides the Town of Franklin with a wide array of planning services. DPCD’s mission is to plan and implement comprehensive policies and initiatives that work to fulfill the land use-related goals of the people of Franklin. We make every effort to maintain the character of the community while enhancing its economic, cultural and social vitality.

The DPCD’s staffing reflects the diverse skills needed to complete the many activities and roles the Department participates. DPCD’s activities and services include, but are not limited to comprehensive planning, economic development, subdivision plan, site plan and conservation plan review, open space and wetlands preservation, historic preservation, zoning by-law and subdivision regulation development, downtown revitalization, brownfields redevelopment, affordable housing, public transportation, transit oriented development, natural hazard mitigation and municipal vulnerability planning, and sustainable development including use of smart growth and low impact development concepts. The Department regularly identifies and sources funding for various community development projects and activities. DPCD balances its approach to these initiatives through long-term planning and public participation. For the last two fiscal years DPCD staff has also had responsibility of operating the Town’s Passport office.

Support of Town Boards and Committees DPCD personnel provide staff support to several boards, commissions and committees, including the Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Design Review Commission, Technical Review Committee, the Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, and the Cultural District Committee. Approximately 60 to 65 percent of the Department’s total staff hours are utilized on Planning Board and Conservation Commission related issues. Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic DPCD staff has needed to spend much more of available staff time on running public meetings; in efforts to ensure citizen engagement and comply with open meeting law regulations, meetings have been conducted remotely using the Zoom platform. In addition, DPCD staff provides professional technical assistance to other public entities on an as needed basis, including Town Council, Zoning Board of Appeals, Town Council’s Economic Development Sub-committee, and various ad hoc committees.
Site Permitting and Guidance
DPCD is not a permit granting authority; its function during the permitting process is to integrate laws, regulations and plans with the Town’s goals to ensure that the best interests of the Town and its residents are served. DPCD personnel organize and attend meetings, provide technical assistance, offer professional opinions, and guide developers, businesses and residents through the Town’s various permitting processes.

Conservation and Resource Protection 
DPCD provides support to the Conservation Commission, as provided by MGL Chapter 131, Section 40. Conservation Staff, specifically the Town’s Conservation Agent, is responsible for speaking for the Conservation Commission when they are not present (see separate Conservation Commission Report). Although not a permit authority, the Conservation Agent does have limited police powers to regulate activities previously approved by the Conservation Commission, stop unauthorized activities, and promote and protect Franklin’s natural resources, including its wetlands, streams, brooks, ponds, lakes and watersheds. In addition, Conservation staff provides administrative support and reviews applications being presented to the Conservation Commission, as well as provides professional support to other Town Boards and Departments.

During FY21 DPCD Conservation staff worked on various conservation and land use related projects, including continued implementation of the DelCarte Conservation Property Master Plan; this year work included coordination of the fifth year of pond treatment. Another project overseen by the Conservation Agent because of wetlands protection issues is the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) tunnel at Prospect Street; the tunnel project was completed in FY21.

Comprehensive Planning and Zoning DPCD is responsible for traditional land-use related activities including updating the Town’s plans, and amending and creating zoning bylaws. A description of zoning and land use issues worked on by DPCD during the 2021 fiscal year is summarized below.

Zoning Bylaw Amendments. DPCD worked on several amendments to Franklin’s Zoning Bylaw during the 2021 fiscal year. Starting in FY18 DPCD began a project to better define the Town's zoning districts by following parcel lines. Where parcels are within two or more zoning districts DPCD developed zoning map amendments to move the Zoning District line so each parcel is only in one zoning district, in most cases based on the current land use. During FY21 DPCD developed and Town Council approved three Zoning Map Amendments related to this project: 20-858, 20-861and 20-862.

DPCD developed Zoning Bylaw Amendment 21-872, which if approved would make it easier for a farmers series brewery, distillery, or winery tasting room to be approved, by eliminating the specific percentage restriction on the tasting room’s size. The tasting room would still be an accessory use to the primary brewery, distillery, or winery use. The zoning bylaw amendment is expected to be approved by Town Council early in FY22.

Franklin Center Project, Rezoning for Economic Growth & Diverse Housing Opportunities. DPCD is working on a planning/zoning study with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). The Franklin Center Project includes an extensive audit of the Town’s Zoning Bylaw as it relates to land uses and dimensional regulations in the Downtown area and adjacent neighborhoods. As part of the Project MAPC will perform substantial community outreach and engagement, which is expected to begin during the first half of FY22.

Hazard Mitigation and Climate Change Vulnerability Planning 
The Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires communities to develop, adopt, and regularly update a Hazard Mitigation Plan to be eligible for FEMA hazard mitigation grants. Franklin’s first HMP was prepared in 2010; an update was needed. During FY20 and FY21 the Town worked to update its HMP. Led by the DPCD Director, the Town’s Hazard Mitigation Working Group worked with its contractor, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, to assess and update data within the Town’s outdated 2010 HMP, including infrastructure and risk assessments, potential hazards, and Franklin’s current and potential mitigation strategies. During the first quarter of FY21 a public input process was completed, including a public hearing on July 28, 2020. The Draft HMP was then updated representing public comments received, and the Draft HMP was submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for review. FEMA completed a review of the Town’s 2020 HMP and found it met all Federal requirements, pending Town adoption. On January 6, 2021 Franklin Town Council formally adopted Franklin’s Hazard Mitigation Plan 2020 Update with passage of Resolution 21-01. Soon after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the Town of Franklin Hazard Mitigation Plan 2020 Update effective January 22, 2021, allowing the Town to apply for FEMA mitigation grant funding through January 21, 2026. The goals and strategies within the updated HMP will be implemented over a five year period, and will be integrated into other Town plans and policies.
Housing Production Plan Update 
Over the last two years DPCD has utilized substantial staff resources to develop an update to the Town’s Chapter 40B Housing Production Plan (HPP). The HPP is a proactive strategy for planning and developing affordable housing, and includes strategies that a community uses to enable it to meet its affordable housing needs in a manner consistent with MGL Chapter 40B and related Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development regulations. A HPP provides a Comprehensive Housing Needs Assessment, a summary of Affordable Housing Goals, and a description of Implementation Strategies the Town will utilize to meet its goals.

During FY21 a Draft HPP was developed by DPCD with input and assistance from the Town Council Economic Development Committee, Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, Franklin Housing Authority, the Town’s Administration and staff, and the Town of Franklin’s residents. Public input on the Draft HPP, and housing issues in general, were accepted from anyone interested in providing comments during a formal Public Comment Period, which ran from May 12, 2021 to June 25, 2021. During that time DPCD attended various public meetings to present the highlights of the Draft HPP, and provide time for residents and officials to ask questions and provide input. One of the meetings, a Formal Public Hearing on the Draft HPP, was held during a Franklin Municipal Affordable Housing Trust meeting on June 2, 2021.

DPCD will use the input received to create a Final version of the Plan, and expect the Final HPP update will be adopted by the Franklin Planning Board and Town Council in the first quarter of FY22. Once adopted by the Town the HPP will be submitted to Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development for approval.

Planning and Implementation of Community Development and Economic Development Projects Each year the DPCD works on many community and economic development initiatives. The Department develops strategies, proposes policies, bylaw changes and Town Council resolutions, manages projects, and seeks grants in efforts to balance Franklin’s community livability and its economic viability.

DPCD encourages responsible community development that meets the goals and objectives of the Town’s various planning documents, and the State’s Sustainable Development and Smart Growth Principles. Some of DPCD’s more important recently completed or ongoing projects and initiatives are summarized below.

Support of Affordable Senior Housing. DPCD worked with Franklin DWP’s Water and Sewer Superintendent to successfully apply to the Housing
Choice  Initiative  Capital  Grant  Program  for  a $201,000 grant. The funds are being used to design a new Water Booster Pumping Station and related water mains that will provide water and fire protection service for the proposed 60-Unit Franklin Ridge Senior Housing project on Veterans Memorial Drive.

Regional Planning. DPCD regularly attends meetings and works on various regional planning issues with a variety of regional organizations, including Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the Southwest Advisory Planning Committee (SWAP Committee), and the I-495/MetroWest Corridor Partnership. Franklin’s Town Planner Amy Love is currently very involved with regional planning issue as the Town’s representative to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and Co-chair of the SWAP Committee. In addition, the DPCD occasionally supports the initiatives of other regional organizations including the Franklin Bellingham Rail Trail Committee, Friends of the SNETT, the MetroWest Tourism and Visitors Bureau, and the Charles River Meadowlands Working Group.

Downtown Revitalization
For close to twenty years the Town has made revitalization of Downtown Franklin a major focus and has worked to improve the Downtown in a variety of ways. During the 2021 fiscal year DPCD continued to work on projects related to implementation of the Franklin Center Plan, which was developed in 2002 and 2003 to provide Town officials with a vision and basic strategy for revitalization of Downtown Franklin. One important component of the Franklin Center Plan is Cultural Uses. The issue of Cultural Economic Development has been a focus for DPCD for more than six years, including working with the MetroWest Tourism and Visitors Bureau on a variety of cultural economic development marketing activities, preparing and distributing Cultural District marketing materials, performing outreach and educational activities, and coordinating efforts with local stakeholders. DPCD provides assistance to the Town’s Cultural District Committee in a variety of ways on a range of projects.

REVIVE Local Arts Indicators Project. DPCD and the Cultural District Committee participated in the regional REVIVE Local Arts Indicators Project implemented by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The project focused on four Massachusetts communities with a high density of arts and culture assets, Franklin, Arlington, Beverly and Boston. REVIVE documented impacts from COVID-19 to the local creative economy, and developed strategies that municipalities can utilize to chart a path to response and recovery for local artists and arts and cultural organizations. A recent webinar, REVIVE
Local Arts Indicators Discussion, provides a project summary:

DPCD works regularly on a wide range of economic development projects and programs, and is one of DPCD’s top priorities, second only to providing excellent administrative and technical assistance to the Town’s boards, commissions and committees. Potential benefits to the Town from successful implementation of DPCD’s business retainage and attraction initiatives are significant. Efforts focus on increasing the value of Franklin’s commercial and industrial tax base, filling the Town’s empty and underutilized industrially zoned buildings, and attracting the right mix of companies to the community. DPCD regularly communicates with realtors, property owners and businesses to make them aware of State and Federal technical assistance programs and financial resources that can be made available to further their development, and to raise awareness of DPCD as a resource for local businesses. DPCD works regularly Massachusetts Office of Business Development, MassDevelopment and other agencies in efforts to attract the right mix of companies to the Town of Franklin’s industrial and commercial areas.

DPCD will continue to undertake a wide range of community and economic development projects, programs, and planning initiatives that will keep the Town of Franklin’s goals and objectives current and representative of residents’ needs and desires. DPCD is proud of its accomplishments and welcomes public input on all of its efforts to improve the quality of life for the residents of Franklin.

Respectfully submitted,

Department of Planning & Community Development Staff

The full Annual Report for 2021 can be found

The collection of Annual Reports can be found online

Annual Town Report Of The Town Clerk’s Office - FY 2021
Annual Report Of The Town of Franklin - FY 2021

Maybe there is something in the Market Study for your business or prospective business?

In July 2020, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council released their Market Study for Franklin. At least one potential business read this study, determined that the numbers confirmed they had a market here in Franklin, and they are indeed open and operating here.

Maybe there is something in this report that could help your business or prospective business?

The report itself

The discussion and presentation at the Economic Development subcommittee meeting (audio)

The discussion and presentation at the Town Council meeting (audio)

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Aug 17, 2022 - video replay available

The Town Council met on Wednesday Aug 17 for approx. 2 hours and 45 minutes. The video recording of the meeting is available for your viewing.

Documents released for this agenda can be found online ->

Flu Clinic scheduled for Oct 12 at the Franklin Senior Center

Flu Clinic

A Flu Clinic is scheduled for Oct 12 at the Franklin Senior Center from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM

Flu Clinic scheduled for Oct 12 at the Franklin Senior Center
Flu Clinic scheduled for Oct 12 at the Franklin Senior Center

Franklin TV and schedule for Friday, Aug 19, 2022

  • or 102.9 on the FM dial = Friday

9:00a/12:00p /6:00p Chapters – Jim Derick  Insightful, life-affirming stories and interviews

10:00a/1:00p/7:00p Music to Lift the Spirit - Jim Derick & Frank Falvey

11:00a/2:00p/8:00pm Senior Story Hour – Senior Center Scribblers Group

  • Franklin All Access TV - Our Public Access Channel (Comcast 8, Verizon 26) = FRIDAY

7:30 am Care For Ukraine
9:00 am Frank Presents: Kim Driscoll
10:00 am Physician Focus: Alzheimer's
11:00 am Senior Connection: COVID Updates
12:00 pm Brook'n'Cookin: Meatballs
12:30 pm Sandhya: Eclairs
1:30 pm Pizzapalooza: Healthy Pizza Crusts
2:00 pm New England Candlepins: Fall 2019 Show 8
3:00 pm SAFE Coalition: Youth Sports
4:00 pm Senior Connection: Danielle Hopkins
4:30 pm Concerts on the Common: Northeast Groove
7:00 pm Norfolk County Prevention Coalition: Repeat Offenders

  • Franklin Pride TV - Our Educational Channel (Comcast 96, Verizon 28) = FRIDAY
7:00 am Public School Concert: Lifelong Music Pt. 2 05-14-19
8:30 am It Takes A Village: 40 Percent Club
9:30 am FHS Oskey 2022
11:30 am FHS Varsity Volleyball: v Lynn Classical 11-05-21
1:30 pm Public School Concert: FHS Spring Jazz '22
3:30 pm Cultural District: Brent Selby
6:00 pm Battleship Cove: 3D Print Lab
7:00 pm FHS Boys Varsity Soccer: v King Philip 10-06-21
9:00 pm FHS Varsity Field Hockey: v Central Catholic 11-09-21
  • Franklin Town Hall TV - Our Government Channel (Comcast 11, Verizon 29) =  FRIDAY

8:00 am Zoning Board of Appeals: 07-28-22
2:00 pm Zoning Board of Appeals: 07-28-22

Get this week's program guide for Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio ( online   

Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (
Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (

Thursday, August 18, 2022

4th Annual Cornhole Tournament - Sep 17, 2022

On September 17, 2022, the public is invited to join the Franklin Odd Fellows for an afternoon of fun and good cheer from 1 to 6:00 PM at the Bellingham Sportsman Club at 360 Lake St., Bellingham, MA 02019.   This will be a fundraiser event with profits going to the Massachusetts Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.  

Teams will consist of two players each with a registration cost of $20 per person.  Team pre-registration and pre-payment is encouraged, but not necessary to be able to participate.  The formatting of the tournament will be a blind draw for round robin play to establish seeding for a Double Elimination Tournament.

Last year’s event went very well, but we only had 10 teams and we want to do better this year.  Get your teams together and register today!  Teams registering at the door on the day of the tournament will be integrated into event as long as there is space and boards available. 

The Sportsman Club will provide a cash bar for refreshments, a music system playing your favorite tunes, and wide screen TV for the sporting fans to keep abreast of the Sox and Patriots.  The Odd Fellows will provide a light lunch at 2:00 PM.  Many thanks to the Sportsman Club for the use of their facility for this event.

4th Annual Cornhole Tournament - Sep 17, 2022
4th Annual Cornhole Tournament - Sep 17, 2022

Annual Report Of The Finance Committee - FY 2021

Note: FY 2021 is last year (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021). The report was prepared to cover the business for the FY 2021 period. This year’s report FY 2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) is in preparation now and is normally available for distribution at the polls for the November election.

I hereby submit the Annual Report of the Finance Committee for FY2021 commencing July 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2021.

Hail and Farewell: The fiscal year began with the departure of former Chairman Mike Dufour and the appointment of Natalie Riley. Susan Dewsnap and David Wiech were reappointed to three-year terms.

We organized early in the fiscal year and elected Bill Dowd, George Conley and Nicole Corbosiero as Chair, Vice Chair and Clerk respectively.

The Committee met thirteen times during the fiscal year. In addition to the annual budget hearings, policy reviews, budget updates and review of capital requests, we initiated a series of information sessions or “deep dives” on multiple aspects of municipal operations. The intent of these sessions was to gain a better understanding of various department operations and policies so we would be better informed when it came time to recommend an annual operating budget to the Town Council. I believe these sessions were quite successful and plan to continue them in FY2022.

Due to prudent fiscal management and better than projected revenue the Town was able to transfer close to $1M into the Budget Stabilization Fund. This reversed the trend of depleting the fund in recent years to balance the operating budgets.
The Committee requested a survey of comparable communities and the policies they have regarding Budget Stabilization or “rainy day” funds. After presenting the Committee the results of this survey the Administration drafted a policy for Franklin to use in establishing guidance, or ‘guard rails ’for the funding and use of our own Budget Stabilization fund. The Committee discussed this extensively and approved a revised policy that awaits Town Council action.

I would like to thank all department heads and employees who appeared before the Committee. I want to especially thank Town Administrator Jamie Hellen and Finance Director Chris Sandini and their respective staffs for the tremendous work they did in preparing us for the various hearings we conducted. I particularly want to thank my fellow Committee members for their service and dedication.

Budget Highlights:

$138,564,865 FY2022 Operating Budget
$ 25,000,000 Beaver St. Sewer Interceptor
$ 4,527,274 FY2021 Capital Needs
$  4,559,000         Maple Hill land Purchase

Respectfully Submitted, 

William C. Dowd
Chairman, Franklin Finance Committee

The full Annual Report for 2021 can be found

The collection of Annual Reports can be found online

Annual Town Report Of The Town Clerk’s Office - FY 2021
Annual Report Of The Town of Franklin - FY 2021

Candlelight Vigil for Overdose Awareness Day - Aug 31 at 6:30 PM

Last year, an estimated 2290 Massachusetts community members lost their life to an #overdose. These community members were mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, neighbors, friends, and individuals who struggled deeply with the disease of addiction.

Join us for a candlelight vigil: Wednesday, August 31st for an evening of remembrance as we honor #InternationalOverdoseAwarenessDay

Wednesday August 31, 2022
6:30 - 8:00 PM
Franklin Town Common - 200 Main St, Franklin MA, 02038 

Candlelight Vigil for Overdose Awareness Day - Aug 31 at 6:30 PM
Candlelight Vigil for Overdose Awareness Day - Aug 31 at 6:30 PM

Annual Report Of The Design Review Commission - FY 2021

Note: FY 2021 is last year (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021). The report was prepared to cover the business for the FY 2021 period. This year’s report FY 2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) is in preparation now and is normally available for distribution at the polls for the November election.

The Design Review Commission (DRC) was established in 1998 when the Town Council adopted a new Zoning Bylaw that established a sitting Design Review Commission. The 1997 Master Plan recommended that Franklin should adopt design standards to re-establish a sense of traditional New England villages. The design standards would assist in shaping the community as a whole, as well as establish a commercial appeal of individual establishments and businesses.

The Commission is responsible to interpret the design guidelines to establish a sense of character in commercial and industrial areas and in sign installations so as to enhance the appearance of the Town while ensuring compliance with Town codes and bylaws. The DRC has approval authority on signage and recommendation input to the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals on Site Plans for landscaping and lighting, and Building Plans for exterior design, colors and materials.

The DRC is composed of 5 regular members and 2 alternate members. All members are residents and volunteers who are appointed by the Town Administrator and ratified by the Town Council. The Commission is currently composed of James Bartro, Chairman; Samuel Williams, Vice Chair; Mark Fitzgerald, Venkata KP Sompally, Gerald Wood, and Chris Baryluk, Associate.

During FY 2021, the commission processed a total of 45 DRC Applications. There were 39 Sign approval applications and 6 Site Plan approval applications. Reviews included projects such as the condominiums in the greater downtown area and the new commercial re- development of sites formerly used for manufacturing.

Due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus over the past year, Design Review meetings are being conducted remotely via the Zoom platform. In an effort to ensure citizen engagement and comply with open meeting law regulations, citizens are able to dial into the meeting using the provided phone number (Cell phone or landline required) or participate by a link embedded in the Agenda for Meetings.

Meetings are held at 7:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays each month, with the exception of December when it normally holds one meeting. Meeting times, dates and agendas are posted on the DRC page:

Respectfully submitted, 

James Bartro, Chairman

The full Annual Report for 2021 can be found

The collection of Annual Reports can be found online

Annual Town Report Of The Town Clerk’s Office - FY 2021
Annual Report Of The Town of Franklin - FY 2021

Dan Rather: A BFD

But Republicans fail the future (and the present)  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
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Dan Rather: A BFD


But Republicans fail the future (and the present)

President Joe Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act at the White House on August 16, 2022. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act at the White House on August 16, 2022. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden has signed into law a bill that is, to quote former President Barack Obama, a "BFD." In other words, a "big deal" with a colorful adjective sandwiched in between for emphasis. It was Obama's way of paying homage to Biden's whispered comment (caught on mic) from back in 2010 with the passage of the Affordable Care Act.  

With apologies to decorum, Obama's summation is warranted. 

The bill is called the Inflation Reduction Act, which most economists think is an accurate description. Inflation reduction is a worthy goal, but what is even more noteworthy — rising to the level of historic — is how the legislation intends to accomplish that feat. It is a compendium of long-desired action on the part of Democrats around health care costs, taxes, and climate change (representing the most ambitious climate measures ever enacted by Congress). 

The details are varied and have been covered admirably in other publications. Were they everything that most Democrats sought? No. But they were significant. Once again, a BFD. 

For the sake of this column, however, let us focus less on the policy than on the politics, and specifically the fact that this bill squeaked through on a purely party-line vote. All Democrats in the House and Senate voted "yea." All Republicans who voted (four representatives did not) voted "nay." All of them. 

Perhaps we have become inured to this unblinking partisanship. Chalk it up to cynicism, to pure party politics, to the zero-sum game that seems to rule Washington, particularly from Republicans when Democrats are in the majority. Obstruct. Delay. Obfuscate. That is the playbook. But while extreme partisanship might explain the actions, it certainly does not excuse them.

This bill aimed to tackle tough challenges, particularly climate change. And on this issue in particular the politics of our time should not be measured in some temporal tally of wins and losses for congressional seats; this is about wins and losses for the habitability of our planet. 

This isn't about four-year election cycles. It is about epochs measured in millennia. 

Those are the stakes. And on this score, most prominent Republican elected officials seem eager to deny reality. And the few who don't fall into that camp are apparently satisfied with doing nothing. 

There may not be a more serious yardstick by which to measure our political era than this failure. As we have often cautioned here, the future of American democracy is at risk these days. But, let us be clear, so is the future of planet Earth. Perhaps even more so. 

When I tweeted the above, I expected to get a decent response; I never expected this level of engagement, but it makes sense. Unlike the politicians, according to polls, most Americans understand the peril and want action.

In this upside-down reality, questions emerge that demand answers and accountability: 

How can a politician who doesn't take climate change seriously be taken seriously? 

How can someone who fails to protect our nation from the increasing threat of natural disasters be considered a voice to heed on national security?

How can someone who denies this reality be considered a credible judge of the truth?

This is not a debate about policy. "How should we tackle this existential threat?" is a legitimate question on which fair minds can disagree. Should it be tax cuts for business or government regulation? Or both? A carbon tax or subsidies for new technologies? Is nuclear energy a viable option? Should we invest more in electric cars or public transportation? Let's have a vigorous debate. Go at it. There is no monopoly on wisdom. And the country needs a strong two-party system, with a Congress of conscience on both sides of the aisle, to have such debates. 

But debate whether we should do ANYTHING??? Really????

(Perhaps from the all caps and the number of question marks you can sense my feelings.)

This bill was a major step forward on addressing climate change. It's not nearly enough. But it is something. A lot. A BFD. So say the scientists. It's a foundation upon which to build. 

But it was also a test of the seriousness of the Republican Party on the most serious of issues. It is a test they failed. All of them in Congress. 

That is not political spin. It's the truth. Just ask Mother Earth. She's screaming out for all to hear. Maybe at some point the politicians who refuse to listen to her pleas will be forced to answer why, and not be taken seriously until they can answer in accordance with reality. 

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© 2022 Dan Rather
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104