Showing posts with label spear phishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spear phishing. Show all posts

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Spear Phishing makes the news (again)

 
"A prominent TV news anchor in India, Nidhi Razdan was looking forward to starting her new job as an associate professor of journalism at Harvard University in September.

Just one setback. Harvard doesn’t have a journalism program.

After months of delays that she attributed to the pandemic, Razdan had a jarring realization: the faculty position, it turns out, doesn’t exist. The offer she thought she had accepted was nothing more than an elaborate ploy to access her personal information, she said."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
 

Monday, January 4, 2021

FM #426 - Franklin Matters Q&A Session - Dec 17, 2020 (audio)

FM #426 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 426 in the series.

This session of the radio show shares the Franklin Matters Q&A session held by the Senior Center on Thursday, Dec 17, 2020. The session was conducted virtually via Zoom conference bridge to adhere to the ‘social distancing’ requirements of this pandemic period.

As I mention during the intro, there is no formal presentation for these sessions. I have at least a couple of things in mind that have changed since the prior meeting to review if folks are interested. We start with your questions, answer those, fill in appropriate background info and connections to other topics where applicable.

The Town Council and Rep Jeff Roy had held their coffee hour that morning. One of the questions to open with was around the Community Preservation Committee legislation that was just approved by the Council at their meeting the prior Wednesday night (12/16/20).

We also talk about the spear phishing incident, storm water utility fee, and the tax rate hearing before getting into the schedule for the next session, Jan 17 at 1:00 PM.

The recording runs just about an hour so let’s listen in.  Audio file = https://www.hipcast.com/podcast/Hs9vbbgS



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Franklin Senior Center newsletter
https://www.franklinma.gov/franklin-senior-center/pages/connection-newsletter

Franklin Senior Center email blast for Jan 2, 2021
https://www.franklinmatters.org/2021/01/franklin-senior-center-email-blast.html


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We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (wfpr.fm).

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.
 
How can you help?

  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like something here, please let me know


Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.
 
For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.org/ 

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

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!

------------------

You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters" 

 

FM #426 - Franklin Matters Q&A Session - Dec 17, 2020 (audio)
FM #426 - Franklin Matters Q&A Session - Dec 17, 2020 (audio)


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Spear Phishing hits authors with books about to be published

"Earlier this month, the book industry website Publishers Marketplace announced that Little, Brown would be publishing “Re-Entry,” a novel by James Hannaham about a transgender woman paroled from a men’s prison. The book would be edited by Ben George.

Two days later, Mr. Hannaham got an email from Mr. George, asking him to send the latest draft of his manuscript. The email came to an address on Mr. Hannaham’s website that he rarely uses, so he opened up his usual account, attached the document, typed in Mr. George’s email address and a little note, and hit send.

“Then Ben called me,” Mr. Hannaham said, “to say, ‘That wasn’t me.’”
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

FM #420 Town Council Quarterbacking - 12/17/20 (audio)

FM #420 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 420 in the series. 


This shares my conversation with Town Council Chair Tom Mercer. This is the second of a series of conversations meant to provide a recap of the prior Council meeting. Akin to one of the many sports post-game analysis broadcasts we are familiar with in New England,  this would be a discussion focused on the Franklin Town Council meeting: ok, what just happened? What does it mean for Franklin residents and taxpayers?


‘regular business’

  • Lot lines clean up changes continue

  • Cable fund transfer authorized

  • GPS lease/purchase approved

 

‘Important business’

  • Community Preservation Committee bylaw approved

  • Authorization of emergency funds for Water Treatment plant billing (replaces spear phishing funds)


The show notes include links to the meeting agenda and associated documents.


Our conversation runs about 37 minutes, so let’s listen in.

Audio file =  https://www.hipcast.com/podcast/HWw2SfvS

 

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Town Council - meeting agenda and packet

https://www.franklinmatters.org/2020/12/franklin-ma-town-council-agenda-dec-16.html 


My meeting notes

https://www.franklinmatters.org/2020/12/town-council-meeting-recap-dec-16-2020.html 

 

 

-------------

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. 

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

How can you help?
  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like something here, please let me know
Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.org/

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

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!

------------------

You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

 

Town Council Chair Tom Mercer opens the meeting 12/16/20
Town Council Chair Tom Mercer opens the meeting 12/16/20

Saturday, December 19, 2020

FM #416 Finance Committee Meeting - 12/15/20 (audio)

FM #416 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 416 in the series. 

This session of the radio show shares the Finance Committee meeting held Tuesday, Dec 15, 2020. 

The meeting was conducted in a hybrid mode; some of the key participants were in the Council Chambers, the remainder participated virtually via Zoom conference bridge to adhere to the ‘social distancing’ requirements of this pandemic period.

Quick Recap:

  • The promised 'deep dive' into the school budget almost happened. "almost" in that if one viewing the meeting had fully read all the pre-released documents, they could sorta follow the questions and answers. Unfortunately, a key question answer was interrupted. I think (yes, my observation) the Central Office (Sara and Miriam) missed a couple of opportunities to make a better case for the budget details and what the district has done.
  • That said - the new monthly format for the FinCom meetings is a work in process and holds great promise. As an adjunct for the Town Council, the opportunity for detailed discussions on particular departments has only really occurred in these meetings. The Council used to get full presentations from each department as part of the budget hearings before more recently switching to their shorted 'hold' and question process.
  • The transfer from the water enterprise 'emergency fund' to make the payment for the water treatment plant was authorized. This was the payment that ended up mis-directed as part of the spear phishing incident.
  • Preliminary discussion on topics for the next few meetings and a review of the current stabilization fund balances was covered before the meeting closed.

The recording runs two hours and seven minutes, so let’s listen to the Finance Committee meeting of Dec 15, 2020.  Audio file =   https://www.hipcast.com/podcast/HycL9GLS


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Meeting agenda and related files  https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/agendas/12-15-20_fincom_agenda_2.pdf

My notes:  https://www.franklinmatters.org/2020/12/finance-committee-recap-of-dec-15-2020.html

-------------


We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (wfpr.fm). 

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

How can you help?

  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like something here, please let me know

Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.org/

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

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!

------------------

You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

Finance Committee member Susan Dewsnap
Finance Committee member Susan Dewsnap




"What we know – and still don’t – about the worst-ever US government cyber attack"

The Boston Globe has the following:

It’s going to take months to kick elite hackers widely believed to be Russian out of the US government networks they have been quietly rifling through since as far back as March in Washington’s worst cyberespionage failure on record.

Experts say there simply are not enough skilled threat-hunting teams to duly identify all the government and private-sector systems that may have been hacked. FireEye, the cybersecurity company that discovered the intrusion into US agencies and was among the victims, has already tallied dozens of casualties. It’s racing to identify more.

“We have a serious problem. We don’t know what networks they are in, how deep they are, what access they have, what tools they left,” said Bruce Schneier, a prominent security expert and Harvard fellow.

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
 
While Franklin suffered from the spear phishing attack which resulted in a diverted payment, the attacker/nefarious character did not access the Franklin network. They used the person inside to do their work. The Russian hack into the major systems of some companies and several government agencies was sophisticated in planning as they apparently hit the supply chain for a piece of software used to protect networks. Once inside, the "trojan horse" allowed access and control. The scope and objective of the hack remains to be determined.
 
Related articles:

Multiple federal agencies have been targeted in a sweeping cyber attack. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP
Multiple federal agencies have been targeted in a sweeping cyber attack. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP


 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Finance Committee - Recap of Dec 15, 2020 meeting

Quick Recap:
  • The promised 'deep dive' into the school budget almost happened. "almost" in that if one viewing the meeting had fully read all the pre-released documents, they could sorta follow the questions and answers. Unfortunately, a key question answer was interrupted. I think (yes, my observation) the Central Office (Sara and Miriam) missed a couple of opportunities to make a better case for the budget details and what the district has done.
  • That said - the new monthly format for the FinCom meetings is a work in process and holds great promise. As an adjunct for the Town Council, the opportunity for detailed discussions on particular departments has only really occurred in these meetings. The Council used to get full presentations from each department as part of the budget hearings before more recently switching to their shorted 'hold' and question process.
  • The transfer from the water enterprise 'emergency fund' to make the payment for the water treatment plant was authorized. This was the payment that ended up mis-directed as part of the spear phishing incident.
  • Preliminary discussion on topics for the next few meetings and a review of the current stabilization fund balances was covered before the meeting closed.
Photos captured during the meeting and shared via Twitter can be found in one folder:  https://photos.app.goo.gl/HH41AkHbUc3m5fzA8
 
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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  #fincom1215

Meeting agenda and related files  https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/agendas/12-15-20_fincom_agenda_2.pdf

Meeting opens, prior minutes approved
  • #fincom1215 begins with roll call for quorum (2 missing - to be checked later) (actually only ONE member missing - vote was 8-0 officially)
  • #fincom1215 vote on minutes for prior meeting approved via roll call vote 7-0-2 (7 for, 0 no, 2 absent)
School budget
  • Getting right into the school updates; in and out of district students approx 80 students for special ed needs handled out of district (excludes transportation) #fincom1215 the q on 450+ students coming in, answer not really. Those Franklin students in schools other than FPS
  • Q no contract negotiations currently with teachers, in middle of 2 year deal. What are steps and lanes as described in contract. Compensation grid termed as steps and lanes; steps equal to years, avg 4-4.5% per step; lanes are compensation for additional degrees #fincom1215
  • Not a uniform amount across the lanes, also varies by step. Bachelor step 6 is max until they get a degree, and then move over a lane #fincom1215 there is some compensation for tuition reimbursement, doesn't cover entire degree cost
  • Q fire and police have benefited from redoing portions of the structure. Schools have a collaborative process with items on table and bargaining with a common interest. #fincom1215 principals not in union, pay scale separate, individual contracts, considerations are factors
  • Do benchmark and comparison for principals to ensure some level of equity. #fincom1215 asst principal in most buildings. Q on unfunded mandates. Estimate on what they are and how much they cost us. Had some assumptions to try and quantify - not complete, an attempt
  • Challenge to put a total dollar on all of it, doc currently have over $4M. 504 may have a physical accommodation, hard to define how much in those cases. MCAS has an admin cost, teacher salaries for rest admin, curriculum to support the testing, the tech to support #fincom1215
  • Q on revolving accounts, assumptions is that they run to zero? No, policy of Committee is to keep a year's worth in the fund. All are fee based accounts. We'll use what we need and apply the remainder for the next year. #fincom1215 balances are set aside for use when invoices
  • For the costs incurred during the year, catch up occurs mostly during the end of the year. FinCom member thinks it is unfair, Central Office did not fully address the issue. #fincom1215 next Q getting to student teacher ratio. At what point would an increase affect education
  • Info provided doesn't properly address the real question. I.e. special programs in house to save on sped costs; most elem classes 17-18-20 and a couple of deviations; process of counting teacher staff per DESE complicates issue #fincom1215
  • Accreditation report recommended adding staff at FHS to address class size; middle school teaching model (i.e. team approach) has benefit but class size can disrupt that. #fincom1215 demographics forecast provides good info 'Sister Anna Catherine's ruler helped'
  • 16-17% special ed in district is about average. The elephant in the room is the Davis Thayer study. Neighborhood school, I understand the concept. What would the effect on the budget be if we pulled the plug on those three schools? #fincom1215
  • "I am not saying there is a request to do so". What would be the effect? It has to be looked at. There is some end to that rise (1200 to 1700/quarter) How long can it be out off? We have a police station in a swamp that we need to address, etc... #fincom1215
  • Chair interjects before central office gets to answer the question. #fincom1215 request to do a better job to address the unfunded mandates, this is the hand your dealt and we're doing the best
  • Q what is the big pain point as you go through this year? It is in my memo but thinking off the cuff here funding post COVID for pandemic related items, could be hitting a funding cliff soon. CDC says $442/person to open in person. Another $2m #fincom1215 I think about
  • All the other things SEL, reliance on tech, more tech support, it goes on... That is a big weight to make sure we have enough for the kids. #fincom1215 Q on the medical services reimbursed thru to the general fund of the Town
  • Discussion on reimbursement, where included, did include Chris Sandini to get answer to help with the various budget items #fincom1215. Q - thanks for coming, we haven't had this opportunity. Midyear review, $2.3m in items are not yet encumbered due to salary set
  • Insurance, mostly health insurance. Best guess it will be likely level, encumbrance might be high at one point and there are offsets from other places to be assumed so it adjust over time #fincom1215 plan switches, and time in calendar year
  • Out of district tuition, don't have the expenses 2 add to the reporting, timing. Revolving account, going back 2. Did dip into some of the revolving funds 2 provide balance to budget. Lifelong learning is a concern, usually self sustaining but given shutdown, no rev #fincom1215
  • Don't anticipate using additional revolving funds to balance. #fincom1215 the # of teachers has been declining but it is hard to find the accounting of that over time. There are steps taken to control what can be controlled. The schools have been effective.
  • Level service budget would be about $3.5m, a level funded budget would be a reduction in services. #fincom1215 the medical billing is common among districts, some have walked away from it, we try to provide the services the students need.
Water treatment plant transfer
  • That closes out the school portion. Moving on to the water treatment plant transfer, dovetails off the cyber attack/spear phishing incident. #fincom1215 can lose track of the pump station construction completion. 40% of the funds recovered, will use emergency balance
  • The transaction authorization of the emergency funds, if additional are recovered, they will replace the emergency fund (not a slush fund by any means) #fincom1215 vendor has not charged any interest on missing payment (misdirected payment)
  • How did the emergency fund get to the $1m balance? Fund developed through surplus revenue, additional revenue over what was forecast. #fincom1215 the liability policy did yield $100k. Can not believe auditor missed that transaction, in other areas, that transfer is double
  • Authorization. I like how it was handled. I agree how it was handled. I stayed up late watching that. I want my boss to support me like that. The Town was a victim and she was too. The room went silent. I hope people understand she is as good as you get #fincom1215
  • Motion made, seconded, passes via roll call, 8-0-1 (nicole absent, no zero) #fincom1215 Update on trust fund and stabilization funds. Last page of packet as of Sept 30. General stabilization is "dust bowl" account, keeps our low interest rate and rating
Stabilization account updates
  • #fincom1215 OPEB trust fund at $7m, liability is $64m, we are still in too ten Communities for ability to pay off that liability. Free cash, $2.73m will go quick. Discussion on use of stab funds for fire trucks, fields; used when fund built
  • 10 years is a good policy but it is also true that you can get a couple of years out of them, CPA maybe another revenue source. #fincom1215 will open space fund get combined with CPA funds? Has to stay separate. Some earmarked for a project
  • It can co-mingle but can not be combined. #fincom1215 approval of meeting schedule for 2021. Motion to approve, second, passes 8-0-1 via roll call (1 absent) Storm water could be a good topic, will affect the operating budget FY 2021 is done, FY 2022 consensus hearing today
  • When the Governor puts house 1 out in January, it sets the table for discussion. #fincom1215 looking good now, hoping to hang in there to get to the spring. Likely a guess by Jamie in the Feb meeting. Revenue and budget stabilization topics for Feb.
  • #fincom1215 MECC and safety for March. Motion to adjourn, second, passes 8-0-1 via roll call. That's all for tonight, catch you all next time
 


 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

FM #414 Talk Franklin - 12/11/20 (audio)

FM #414 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 414 in the series. 

This session of the radio show shares my "Talk Franklin" conversation with Town Administrator Jamie Hellen and Marketing and Communications Specialist Anne Marie Tracey. We had our conversation via conference bridge to adhere to the ‘social distancing’ requirements of this pandemic period.

We talk about: 

Business listening session
  • Holiday special edition
  • #ThinkFranklinFirst gift cards
Water ban lifted (finally – due to rain, snow…)
 
Town Council
  • New councilor
  • CPA comes back
  • Payment for treatment facility
COVID-19 reminder on social distance, masks, etc …

We’ll record a session of Talk Franklin each week leading to Christmas and take the holiday week off to begin again in 2021. After this session, we have one more to close out 2020.

Links to the key topics covered here are included in the show notes. The recording runs about 45 minutes, so let’s listen to my conversation with Jamie and Anne Marie.  Audio file = https://player.captivate.fm/episode/8cb9f089-78b3-477a-9670-daa14150728c



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#ThinkFranklinFirst gift cards
  https://franklingiftcard.com/ 


-------------
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. 

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

How can you help?
  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like something here, please let me know
Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.org/

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

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!

------------------
You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Agenda - Dec 16, 2020

1. ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM THE CHAIR
This meeting is being recorded by Franklin TV and shown on Comcast channel 11 and Verizon Channel 29.  This meeting may be recorded by others. 

2. CITIZEN COMMENTS
Citizens are welcome to express their views for up to five minutes on a matter that is not on the agenda. The Council will not engage in a dialogue or comment on a matter raised during Citizen Comments. The Town Council will give remarks appropriate consideration and may ask the Town Administrator to review the matter. 

3. APPROVAL OF MINUTES

4. PROCLAMATIONS/RECOGNITIONS
None Scheduled

5. APPOINTMENTS
None Scheduled 

6. HEARINGS - 7:10pm
Zoning Bylaw Amendment 20-861: Zoning Map Changes on or near Oak Street 
Legislation for Action Item: 10a.  

Zoning Bylaw Amendment 20-862: Zoning Map Changes on or near Longhill Rd. & Pleasant St.
Legislation for Action Item: 10b.    

7. LICENSE TRANSACTIONS
2021 Annual Alcoholic Beverages License Renewals

8. PRESENTATIONS/DISCUSSIONS
None Scheduled

9. SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS
a. Capital Budget Subcommittee

b. Budget Subcommittee

c. Economic Development Subcommittee

10. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
10a. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
Zoning Bylaw Amendment 20-861: Zoning Map Changes on or near Oak Street - Second Reading (Motion to Adopt Zoning Bylaw Amendment 20-861 - Two Thirds Majority Roll Call Vote)   https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10a._20-861_oak_0.pdf

10b. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
Zoning Bylaw Amendment 20-862: Zoning Map Changes on or near Longhill Road and Pleasant Street - Second Reading (Motion to Adopt Zoning Bylaw Amendment 20-862 - Two Thirds Majority Roll Call Vote)   https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10b._20-862_longhillpleasant_0.pdf

10c. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
Bylaw Amendment 20-864 As Amended: To Amend The Code of the Town of Franklin to Add A New Chapter 16 Community Preservation Committee (CPC) - Second Reading (Motion to Adopt Bylaw Amendment 20-864 - Majority Roll Call Vote)   https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10c._20-864_cpc_1.pdf

10d. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
Resolution 20-75: Authorization For Town Administrator To Enter Into Lease Purchase Financing Agreement To Fund Upgrade Of DPW G.P.S. System Devices (Motion to Approve Resolution 20-75 - Two Thirds Majority Vote)   https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10d._20-75_gps_lease.pdf

10e. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
Resolution 20-76: Appropriation Transfer To Water Treatment Plant Fund Authorized Under Resolution 19-27 (Motion to Approve Resolution 20-76 - Majority Vote)   https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10d._20-75_gps_lease.pdf

10f. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
Resolution 20-77: Cable Funds in Support of PEG Service and Programming per MGL Ch. 44, §53F3/4 (Motion to Approve Resolution 20-77 - Majority Vote)   https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10f._20-77_peg.pdf

10g. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
Resolution 20-78: Town Council 2021 Meeting Calendar (Motion to Approve Resolution 20-78 - Majority Vote)   https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10g._20-78_2020_council_schedule_-_memo_resolution_office_hours.pdf

10h. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
Resolution 20-79: Gift acceptance - Police Department, $100 (Motion to Approve Resolution 20-79 - Majority Vote)   https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10h._20-29_police_gift.pdf

10i. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
Resolution 20-80: Gift acceptance - Franklin Library, $51,624 (Motion to Approve Resolution 20-80 - Majority Vote)  https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif591/f/mai/files/10i._library_gift.pdf

11. TOWN ADMINISTRATOR'S REPORT
COVID-19 Update

12. FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS

13. COUNCIL COMMENTS

14. EXECUTIVE SESSION
None Scheduled 

ADJOURN


Note: 
  • Two-Thirds Vote: requires 6 votes
  • Majority Vote: requires majority of members present and voting
Connection info can be found on the agenda document folder

Rudolph gets in the spirit of the season at Four Corners (East Central - King St - Chestnut St)
Rudolph gets in the spirit of the season at Four Corners (East Central - King St - Chestnut St)


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

FM #408 Talk Franklin - 12/04/20 (audio) - #thinkfirstfranklin gift cards, tax rate, spear phishing, etc.

FM #408 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 408 in the series. 

This session of the radio show shares my "Talk Franklin" conversation with Town Administrator Jamie Hellen and Marketing and Communications Specialist Anne Marie Tracey. We had our conversation via conference bridge to adhere to the ‘social distancing’ requirements of this pandemic period.

We talk about: 

  • December closing the year out
  • #ThinkFranklinFirst gift cards
  • Tax rate hearing
  • Comcast contract
  • Spear phishing update

We’ll record a session of Talk Franklin each week leading to Christmas and take the holiday week off to begin again in 2021

Links to the key topics covered here are included in the show notes. The recording runs about 45 minutes, so let’s listen to my conversation with Jamie and Anne Marie. 

Audio file = https://anchor.fm/letstalkfranklin/episodes/December-2020-in-Franklin-Tax-Rate--Spear-Phishing--Comcast-and-Franklin-Gift-Cards-enhdje


 

--------------

#ThinkFranklinFirst gift cards  https://franklingiftcard.com/ 


-------------

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. 

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

How can you help?
  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like something here, please let me know
Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.org/

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

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!

------------------
You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

Town Administrator Jamie Hellen updates the Town Council during the 12/02/20 meeting
Town Administrator Jamie Hellen updates the Town Council during the 12/02/20 meeting


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://www.hipcast.com/podcast/HWhvC47S




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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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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.

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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


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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