Showing posts with label investigation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label investigation. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

National News: FBI facing challenge on background check; wood stove certification found lacking

"FBI facing allegation that its 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh was ‘fake’"
"The FBI is facing new scrutiny for its 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh, the supreme court justice, after a lawmaker suggested that the investigation may have been “fake”.

Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator and former prosecutor who serves on the judiciary committee, is calling on the newly-confirmed attorney general, Merrick Garland, to help facilitate “proper oversight” by the Senate into questions about how thoroughly the FBI investigated Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. "
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/16/fbi-brett-kavanaugh-background-check-fake

 
"Natural but deadly: huge gaps in US rules for wood-stove smoke exposed"
"In 2015, the US government required that newer models of wood stoves perform better and began spending millions of dollars to subsidize the transition away from older models. Now, an investigation by state environment officials is revealing a critical flaw in that plan: the latest stoves might not be any less polluting than the previous ones.

A review of 250 wood-burning stove certifications found unexplained data omissions and atypical lab practices. When the officials retested about a dozen of the heaters in their own labs, they were not able to reproduce the certification results. They found many stoves were polluting as much as the previous models. One was producing so much pollution that it wouldn’t have met the Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever standards from 1988."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Monday, December 7, 2020

FM #407 Town Council Mtg - Spear Phishing Incident - 12/02/20 (audio)

FM #407 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 407 in the series.

This session shares the Franklin, MA Town Council meeting held on Wednesday, Dec 2, 2020.

The meeting was conducted in a hybrid format: members of the Town Council, selected guests, and Town Administration personnel were in the Council Chambers, the public was remote via Zoom conference bridge, all to adhere to the ‘social distancing’ requirements of this pandemic period.

I’ve split the full four hour plus meeting into three logical segments:

  • First - covers the opening through the first public hearing on the tax rate and subsequent votes to approve 14.65% as the rate for FY 2021 (1 hour and 5 minutes)
  • Second - covers two of the public hearings; the Comcast contract renewal for 10 years, and the bylaw fee adjustment to reduce the fees for next year only to help the local restaurants during this COVID-19 pandemic period (36 mins)
  • Third - covers the presentation on the spear phishing incident through to the meeting close. There was a 4 minute recess during this segment, I did remove most of the silence to reduce the time for this segment (where I could) (2 hours and 17 minutes)

The show notes contain links to the meeting agenda including documents released for this agenda.

Let’s listen to this segment of the Town Council meeting of Dec 2, 2020. Audio file => 
https://player.captivate.fm/episode/f5e26bfe-2d9c-4dd7-a68a-a652123f561d



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Agenda document (and released supporting materials in one PDF)
https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/agendas/12-02-2020_town_council_agenda.pdf
 
Agenda details with individual documents  
https://www.franklinma.gov/town-council/agenda/december-2-town-council-meeting-tax-rate-hearing

Spear phishing update folder
https://franklinma.gov/administrator/pages/spear-phishing

My notes from the meeting
https://www.franklinmatters.org/2020/12/town-council-meeting-comcast-contract.html  

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We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (wfpr.fm) or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial. 

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The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.

I hope you enjoy!

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Police Chief TJ Lynch updates on the ongoing police investigation
Police Chief TJ Lynch updates on the ongoing police investigation

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Town Council Meeting: Comcast contract, Spear phishing update, tax rate set

Quick Recap:
  • Acting Town Clerk Nancy Danello reminds folks of the election Dec 5 
  • Discussion on election 'rules' raised during citizen comments - debunked in Council discussion later, there are MA MGL and US voting rights statues but not the '30 page or rules doc mentioned'
  • tax rate hearing was held. rate set at 14.65, a .14 cent increase of last year. The rate is a calculation that allows only a decision on a single rate or dual. Franklin is not in a position to use a dual rate so the Council voted for a single rate. The rest is a math exercise. I'll simplify the analysis later.
  • Comcast cable contract came up for renewal, new one has a ten year term (good for us) as it enables Franklin to chose between Verizon or Comcast (or 'cut the cord'). Almost 5,000 user for Comcast in Franklin. One of the cable fees on both the Verizon and Comcast bill is what funds the Franklin TV cable operations (and coincidently an item on the agenda Weds was the quarterly transfer of funds from Verizon through Town of Franklin to Franklin TV - purely a pass through for accounting purposes)
  • The bylaw to provide a reduction in license renewals for restaurants was approved at this second reading. It costs the Town approx. $13K in 'lost revenue' but will help each of the business in this pandemic period.
  • Insights on the cyber theft incident were provided (finally) as the investigation (still ongoing) had developed enough info to be able to share. It was a target attack to the Treasurer/Collector over two months of email that led to a change in the processing of a payment that resulted in the diversion of funds. It was discovered in Sept when the real legitimate vendor came looking for their promised payment that had not been received. 
    • The individual was suspended, salary reduced and will maintain position as this (while a significant mistake) was the only blemish on her work
    • At one point in the meeting she stood up to apologize publicly (well done) 
    • The investigation continues. The Town has obtained $200K from insurance to cover the loss. 
    • The balance will come from the emergency fund within the water enterprise account (already set aside for emergencies - usually for broken water mains)
    • There is a possibility of recovery of the funds. 
    • There is no need to raise rates to cover for the loss
    • Procedures were in place for creation of a wire transfer. Procedures will be modified to cover a change in a payment process.
    • Additional training on cyber awareness will be conducted. All Town side personnel and School department central office personnel are currently part of this regular training (oddly, teachers (the largest segment of Town employees are not yet covered))
  • After the presentation, a combined effort from Technology Director Tim Raposa, Police Chief TJ Lynch, and Town Administrator Jamie Hellen, the Council took a 3 minutes recess before getting into their Q&S and statements
  • The presentation doc was posted to the Town page after the meeting. Future updates can be found on the same page  https://www.franklinma.gov/administrator/pages/spear-phishing

Photos captured and shared via Twitter during the meeting can be found in one album  https://photos.app.goo.gl/gpptq8gBudNDT8dx6


----
As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting in real-time via the virtual session.
 
The Twitter hashtag can be found online  #TC1202
https://twitter.com/search?q=%23tc1202&src=typed_query 
  • Real time reporting underway for the Town Council meeting #tc1202
  • New tagline for those connecting via cable and wanting the Zoom info #tc1202 visible on screen
  • Town clerk provides updates on election Dec 5 #tc1202 wheel chair available if necessary. All voting in FHS gym or via mail to the dropbox at municipal building before Saturday
  • TC candidate Alan Earls in citizen comment about election law and practices. Is there really a set of rules around the election? Other than the state MGL #tc1202
  • Moving to tax classification hearing #tc1202 house values increased 2.8% tax rate increase proposed for .14 cents. Doc with details https://franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10a._20-68_0.pdf… TA Jamie Hellen introduces Assessor Kevin Doyle and Board of assessor present
  • Annual tax rate setting formally closes out the budget year FY 2021. #tc1202 really only (1) an approval of what the tax calculation comes out as and (2) a decision on single rate. Runs 80/20 residential vs commercial/industrial properties. To move $1 from residents …
  • As the pie grows (property values increase) the rate increase is less when the pie shrinks (property values decrease) the tax rate increases #tc1202 this slide shows the option if a dual rate was chosen
  • The actual math to support the $1 vs $4 example mentioned earlier
  • Council discussion adding clarification around the tax rate. This is an automatic calculation. Based upon the state law and prop 2 1/2 regulations there isn't much choice (aside from the dual tax rate). #tc1202 it is not an arbitrary number
  • Motion to close tax classification hearing. Approved 8-0 moving to Legislation on tax rates to close out this portion of the topic. #tc1202 https://franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10a._20-68.pdf…. Motion to approve res 20-68, passes 8-0 https://franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10b._20-69_resolution_-_tax_classification_open_space_exemption.pdf… same vote to pass res 20-69
  • https://franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10c._20-70_resolution_-_tax_classification_small_business_exemption.pdf… motion passes by 8-0 vote; https://franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10d._20-71_resolution_-_tax_classification_residential_property_exemption.pdf
  • Motion passes by 8-0 vote #tc1202
  • Next up public hearing on Comcast cable license, renewal for 10 year period, https://franklinma.gov/town-council/agenda-items/10e-legislation-action-28… 4219 customers, 5% allowed for cable access, quarterly payments to help support Franklin TV operations; senior discount available, #tc1202
  • TA Jamie Hellen provides overview #tc1202 do we need to commit for 10 year contract? Yes, there are other developments, there are almost 5000 customers here to serve. It is a reflection of the marketplace. It is in our interest to get longest contract.
  • Cable attorney provides insights and argument for the long term contract, it is a win-win for Franklin, this meeting and broadcast of it is funded by the contract. If folks aren't happy they can shift to Verizon or cut the service. Enforcing the license is the easy part #tc1202
  • The hard part is getting terms that work with both sides. Comcast has committed to a side letter on providing an electric program guide for Community TV. #tc1202 we provide the options Verizon and Comcast are here, competition, and if you cut cable go internet
  • Motion to close hearing on cable, 7-1 vote to close hearing (Bissanti?) (Hard to tell who voted no) #tc1202 https://franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/summary_of_franklin_comcast_cable_license_renewal_draft_from_atty_wm_solomon_11.30.20_pdf_2.pdf… res 20-72 vote passes 7-1
  • Moving to adjustment to service fees for restaurants, and alcohol license for season 2021 only https://franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10f._20-863_fees.pdf… to help the business survive the pandemic. Costs the town approx $13k, second reading. Listing of business impacted in doc link above
  • Opened public hearing on bylaw, no comments other than Councilor Hamblen endorsing the move. Hearing closed, motion to approve #tc1202 via roll call 8-0
  • Picking back to the agenda, cyber incident now up. #tc1202 there is still an active situation with investigation underway. Resist speculation. Don't make up your own stories of what happen. Personnel matters can not be disclosed
  • Tim Raposa, technology director, starting with definitions. As much of what has been mentioned in social media is inaccurate. #tc1202
  • #tc1202 slides on definitions
  • #tc1202 segmented network with virtual lab areas, a key for security access. You can't get where you shouldn't. Anti-malware is not 100% perfect
  • Cyber security training for all users regularly #tc1202 key definition page as we get to phishing and spear phishing
  • #tc1202 funds were for the water treatment plant construction underway off Grove St. Town has taken several steps
  • Implementation of recovery and prevention started simultaneously in September #tc1202
  • #tc1202 we need to tell the agencies about what happened so that they can possibly solve this down the road. Insufficient evidence to pursue a case
  • Bonds are not insurance #tc1202
  • #tc1202 option to pursue the bond is too expensive. Need 'willful conduct' to pursue.
  • Chief Lynch comes to update and give Jamie a water break #tc1202 FPD needs helps as their jurisdiction is Franklin bound. Subpoena and search warrants take time to execute  and hindered by court reduction due to COVID-19
  • #tc1202 procedure changes and training (certificate based)
  • #tc1202 impressive statement by treasurer collector apologizing for the incident.
  • 3 minute recess before getting to council questions and continue the meeting #tc1202
  • #tc1202 meeting resumes
  • #tc1202 are there chances to get the money back? The investigation is ongoing, I don't want to give a false sense of confidence. Likely not to get it back. We should resist temptation until the case is fully resolved.
  • #tc1202 we need to make these trainings stick like the way sexual harassment training sticks.
  • #tc1202 new webpage off the Town Administrator page for presentation doc and docs related to this going forward.  https://franklinma.gov/administrator/pages/spear-phishing
  • #tc1202 how will training change to accommodate the changes in outside and technology to avoid further phishing events? The training is such that it is part of normal business email.
  • #tc1202 there was a lot of info and I'll go back and re-read, was there a comment on the water rate payers vs well water users? Yes, private well not part of enterprise funds. It could be approx. $30. There is no need to raise rates to cover.
  • #tc1202 Mercer "I apologize that it took so long to get to the point where we could share what we have tonight"
  • Good to see the lights out around town, would be good to get a list of the houses that are festively decorated. Motion to adjourn, passes 8-0. That is all for tonight catch you next time #tc1202 
 audio of the meeting is being prepared to share so you can listen.

Town Administrator Jamie Hellen
Town Administrator Jamie Hellen


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Franklin Police: Attleboro man killed in Franklin

On Thursday October 29, 2020 in the early morning hours the Franklin Police responded to a 911 call reporting a male party who had suffered a gunshot on Elwood Road.

Initial officers rendered first aid to the victim along with paramedics from the Franklin Fire Department. The victim was transported to Milford Regional Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. The victim has been identified as Deandre Akeem Scott, age 26, of Attleboro.

Franklin Police detectives, along with detectives from the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office are actively investigating and processing the scene at this time.

Chief of Police Thomas J. Lynch stated, “we do not believe there is any danger to the public, and that the suspect or suspects, knew each other.” Lynch continued “this is the first incident of this type in Franklin since 1997. Franklin remains a safe community, and the public should have no worries in sending their children to school today.”

Due to the ongoing active investigation no further details will be released at this time. Franklin Police will update when it is appropriate to do so.

 

Franklin Police: Attleboro man killed in Franklin
Franklin Police: Attleboro man killed in Franklin

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Franklin, MA: Police Dept - 2020 Media Release, Spruce Pond

On Sunday October 11, 2020 at approximately 12:49pm the Franklin Police Department through the Metacomet Emergency Communication Center (MECC) received a 911 call reporting a male party experiencing a mental health crisis in the Spruce Pond Condominium complex. The caller also advised that the individual was armed with a handgun, threatening harm to himself, and anyone who approached.

Initial responding Franklin Police officers set up a perimeter and made initial contact with the party. Additional resources, including the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council’s (Metro- LEC) SWAT team were also called to the scene.

During the incident, the male party fired a multiple rounds from a handgun striking the armored truck containing the SWAT officers. Because of the availability of this kind of armored equipment, the SWAT team did not return fire with the subject.

Swat officers were then able to engage the subject from inside the armored vehicle utilizing 40mm less than lethal munitions, Taser, and a K9 team. The subject was taken into custody while still in possession of the firearm. The subject is being treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and will undergo a mental health evaluation.

One Metro-LEC SWAT officer was struck by the ricochet of a round fired by the subject. The officer thankfully was not injured and did not require further treatment.

We are thankful that this incident ended without the loss of any life. It also serves as a reminder that incidents of this type can happen anywhere, and at any time. Officers need the tools available to them to be able to respond safely, with the goal always being the preservation of all life.

At this time the investigation is ongoing. Information on potential criminal charges will be available at the conclusion of the investigation.

Chief Thomas J. Lynch stated “I am proud of the response of my officers, and the Metro- LEC team, the professionalism of all involved, and the incredible restraint shown. Results like this are not always possible but are what we strive for.” Lynch continued “We need to continue training all of our officers and must always provide them with the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs.”

The Franklin Police Department wishes to thank all our law enforcement, and fire department partners that assisted us today with this tense situation.

 

Shared from Franklin Police  https://www.franklinma.gov/police-department/news/2020-media-release-spruce-pond

Franklin, MA: Police Dept - 2020 Media Release, Spruce Pond
Franklin, MA: Police Dept - 2020 Media Release, Spruce Pond


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Media Release, Tri County RVTHS

"On Monday November 25, 2019 at approximately 7:40 AM the Franklin Police School Resource Officer assigned to the Tri Country Regional Vocational Technical High School on Pond Street was notified of a threatening message which had been discovered in one of the girl’s bathrooms. 

School administrators and the SRO immediately began an investigation. School staff interviewed students, and reviewed CCTV video of the area. It was quickly determined that no credible threat to the school existed, and the school day was not disrupted. 

School administrators sent a message to families of all students advising them of the incident. At this time there are no pending criminal charges against any person, and the school staff is continuing to look into the source of the message. 

The Franklin Police will continue to monitor the investigation, and provide assistance to school administrators as requested. "


This was shared from the Franklin Police Dept.
https://www.franklinma.gov/police-department/news/media-release-tri-county-rvths

Media Release, Tri County RVTHS
Media Release, Tri County RVTHS

Monday, November 18, 2019

Pantherbook Series: Environmental Investigations

via Pantherbook we find:
"In recent years, environmental issues have taken center stage in political discussions across the globe. How do these large-scale issues affect Franklin? Answering this question is the goal of Pantherbook’s newest series, known as Environmental Investigations.

Each week, a new article will be posted detailing an ecological problem pertaining to Franklin High School, or the town as a whole.

The series will be kicked off by Anika Patchala, who will talk about FHS’s resident environmental activists: the Green Team. Halle Goldsmith will discuss recycling practices and Amanda Wylie will inform readers about plant-based meat as a solution to meat overconsumption. Next, Gretchen Scotland will detail the issue of forest fragmentation in Franklin. Amelia Johnson-Pelligri will investigate the purportedly unsustainable cafeteria practices at FHS. Finally, Elise Ravich will summarize the findings of other journalists by describing the most effective ways for readers to get involved."
Continue reading about the new series
https://franklinpanthers.us/top-stories/2019/11/15/upcoming-series-environmental-investigations/


Is Franklin doing a good job conserving beautiful landscapes like this one? (Photo by Emily Cesa)
Is Franklin doing a good job conserving beautiful landscapes like this one? (Photo by Emily Cesa)

Friday, December 4, 2015

In the News: signs of drug abuse, investigation of fire continues

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin

A local group devoted to fighting substance abuse will hold a forum next week on the signs of drug use. 
The Support for Addicts and Families by Empowerment (SAFE) coalition will hold the session - intended to help family members identify signs that loved ones are abusing drugs or alcohol - on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at Franklin High School. 
James Derick, the president of the coalition's board of directors, said the interactive forum will discuss signs, symptoms and solutions. 
"We will have packages available, so parents can handle items commonly identified as signs a loved one might be using," he said. "These are things like Q-tips, bent spoons and burnt tinfoil. They're things parents might walk by."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
http://www.milforddailynews.com/article/20151202/NEWS/151208688/1994/NEWS


The Massachusetts Fire Marshal's office is still in the midst of investigating the explosion that took the lives of two Franklin residents in October. 
Nancy and Richard Brown, both 66, apparently died as the result of the Tuscany Drive blast, which took place shortly before 7 a.m. on Oct. 10. 
Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman with the fire marshal's office, said the investigation has two components: determining the origin and cause of the explosion and looking into whether there was a violation of state codes. 
"We're waiting to have scheduled a forensic investigation of the building's burner and gas log fireplace," she said. "Because the testing could be destructive, we need all the parties to agree and come together."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
http://www.milforddailynews.com/article/20151202/NEWS/151208620/1994/NEWS

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"the state recommends “common sense” to minimize exposure"

While the decision to continue to build a new turf field at the high school won't be changed, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting is looking into the safety issue.



Part of the article published at Huffinton Post:
As opposition mounts, some consider the fields a solid waste problem, and question what towns would do with the thousands of pounds of crushed tires if the issue reaches a tipping point. The momentum of concern has pushed the California legislature to consider legislation prohibiting the use of state funds to build new fields with recycled tires and that would require towns and cities to examine cleaner alternatives before launching a new project. The Los Angeles Unified School District and the New York City Parks Departments already have stopped construction of new fields with crumb rubber following past concern about lead content. 
Artificial turf advocates say there are multiple studies that show fields are safe, while critics argue that there are no conclusive tests to prove such claims and that waiting for definitive evidence of a health hazard leaves children unprotected. 
More than 300 such fields have been built in Massachusetts during the past decade and they are becoming a coveted sports alternative for student athletes in towns from Boston to Attleboro, New Bedford to Springfield, according to a survey of field construction companies carried out by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. Athletes who play on the fields are well acquainted with the black pellets – a spray of which is often kicked up by bouncing balls and running children, and gets into cleats and tracked into homes and mixed with laundry after practice.
FHS girls soccer team kicks off a home game on the turf field at FHS in October
FHS girls soccer team kicks off a home game on the turf field at FHS in October


Continue reading the full article here
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/09/toxic-turf_n_7218728.html?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000016

For more information about the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, you can visit their webpage here  http://necir.org/

The MA Dept of Health letter on the topic can be found here
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2071976-dphturf.html




Updated: from the Sun Chronicle
http://www.thesunchronicle.com/news/local_news/local-officials-confident-turf-fields-are-safe/article_6348fdfa-f6c4-11e4-8774-9fe08004b4cf.html

Monday, November 26, 2007

Next School Committee Meeting - Tuesday, 11/27/07

Given the recent news about the shortfall discovered, Finance person suspended, investigation and audit underway; I don't think I will trust the cable network to deliver the next meeting to my door.

I plan on being there in person to hear more about what happened.