Saturday, October 29, 2011

Election signs

I needed an excuse to keep me running Friday morning so I set out to find and photo as many election signs in Franklin as I could. With 37 candidates across the ballot, this wasn't too bad for a quick and short run. I will need to find some more as I get around town or run again with this goal in mind.

If you live in Franklin and find some different ones, please share.

Note: this is not an endorsement of any candidate or candidates. This is an exercise in getting photos of each candidate's sign.

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view the slideshow

In the News - McGann, Donahue

Meet the Franklin Candidate: Joseph McGann, Town Council

Donahue: Let the Franklin voters decide

Friday, October 28, 2011

MA confirms $151,114 coming to Franklin

Franklin is getting $151,114 from this new allocation. Note that this allocation has been talked of coming, this is the confirmation of it. It is not 'another' set of dollars coming to Franklin.

On October 27, 2011, Governor Deval Patrick signed Chapter 142 of the Acts of 2011, which appropriated $65M in a supplemental budget for cities and towns of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This additional local aid will be distributed to municipalities on Monday, October 31, 2011. 
The file for your distribution can be found at

Please be advised that this revenue may be used in any one of the following ways:
• Applied as estimated receipts when setting the FY12 tax rate;
• Appropriated as an available fund during FY12, or;
• Any funds not appropriated must be closed to fund balance (free cash) at the end of FY12

Via the MA DLS Bulletin sent 10/28/11

Last Farmer's Market this season

Franklin is waking up to some snow on the ground with word of a good storm to bring more this weekend. Summer is behind us which also reminds us that the last Farmer's Market is today. Stop by the Town Common to take advantage of this opportunity for fresh local produce!

Franklin Farmers Market,  Friday,  12:00pm to 6:00pm

Located on the Town Common

Franklin: Farmers Market

Reminder that the Farmers' Market now accepts SNAP dollars and can double your purchasing power.

Visit the Franklin Food Pantry tent at the Farmers' Market for details.

5 tips for staying safe on the web

A 2 minute video with good reminders to stay safe while using the Internet.

Thanks to Richard Byrne for pointing to this video

In the News - Mercer, phosphorus

Meet the Franklin candidate: Thomas Mercer, Town Council

Phosphorus bill could help local businesses dealing with new stormwater regulations

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Editorial - A sad day for Franklin

In the years that I have been following our budget cycles, the Town Council, the School Committee, there was nothing to compare to Wednesday night, October 26.

You can spin what happened that night in any number of ways (there will be at least two, and folks will, if they haven't already).

My bottom line: the Town Council played their power card and reversed their decision of passing the budget in June by reducing the school budget by $350,000. They may have said this was not against the teachers. This was not against the union. They may have said this was a funding issue. But rather than work to find the funds, they cut. Rather than help the children of Franklin whose educational opportunity has been in a decline for years, they cut. Rather than attempt to work together with the School Committee, they buried them.

In January 2008, probably the last time the entire Council and School Committee were in the same room together (other than on a 'candidate night'), both were together to listen to the Forensic audit report.  That event started in the 2006 budget cycle when the Finance Director position was cut from the School Department budget. The assistant was moved up, did not get certified, the school department did not ask for a waiver, the person made incorrect transfers and then got caught in an audit. The incident was attempted to be buried in the news over the Thanksgiving holiday and ultimately wasn't. Franklin voters are smart. They know when something is being pulled over them.

Why do I raise that dark day? A few times Wednesday night many folks recounted the hours they spent working to get an over ride passed. The two most recent both failed. The two most recent were focused on the school budget. The one that did pass, the only one in Franklin's history was truly a Town wide budget override. It passed in 2007. Yes, 2007 before the forensic audit incident. No override will pass in Franklin if it is for the schools until such time as trust is restored in the school budget. Wednesday night was not a night that will go down as turning the tide.

Since that January 9, 2008 meeting neither the School Committee nor the Town Council has done much to truly try to be transparent and build trust. Despite all the talk, actions speak louder than words. So we are left with a choice.

1 - If the Town Councilors can't be trusted, you'll believe that they played their power card. It was a pure play power move. Us versus. them. TC vs. SC. To save their bruised egos, they cut the school budget to correct a decision they made based upon incomplete info in June.

2 - If you can believe the Town Council can be trusted, then there is more 'found money' in the school budget. Despite taking the $350K away from the schools, they feel the school budget has the money that will enable them to not add more damage to our students education.

There are no winners in this situation.
Educational opportunity in Franklin takes another hit.
Trust in Franklin takes another hit.

Now, there may still be hope.

Maybe there is a third choice.

This Town Council has one more meeting (Weds Nov 2).

Maybe. Just maybe, in the light of a new day, with a clearer head than they expressed on Wednesday night, they will reconsider the implications of their actions.

Maybe, just maybe, the School Committee will attempt to explain their budget and the impact the cut would have.

Maybe, just maybe, we might all get past this without further scarring the educational experience of our 6,000 students.

In the News - Jones, library, $350,000

Meet the Franklin candidate: Glenn Jones, Town Council

Student Assistance Center opens at Franklin library

Franklin Town Council cuts $350K from School Department budget

Town Council - 10/26/11

The collection of live reporting from the Town Council meeting on Oct 26, 2011 can be found here:

Bon Jovi's "Soul Kitchen"

What a great idea!

Read the full story on line here

38th Annual Craft Fair on Saturday, Nov 12

The Franklin Newcomers and Friends Club will hold its 38th Annual Craft Fair on Saturday,
November 12th from 9 am to 4 pm at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in
Franklin, MA.

Admission will be $3.00 per person, children 12 and under are free. The club
proudly supports the Franklin Food Pantry and will be accepting non-perishable food donations
at the fair.

This year’s annual tradition will feature over 60 crafters offering hand made and unique items for
every style and budget including: art, photography, baskets, candles, kids and adult clothing and
accessories, jewelry, ceramics, ornaments, handbags, holiday d├ęcor, and much, much more!

The Franklin Newcomers Club is a social and charitable club for area residents. The majority of
the proceeds from the Craft Fair will benefit local organizations. For more information, visit

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Live reporting - Closing


Pfeffer - to open up the stabilization fund the money that we put aside tonight

Nutting - it is not the right time to be doing anything until next fiscal year. You just spent 2 hours telling people not to incur expenses

McGann - I didn't relaize we had another meeting, I'll save my comments for then
Kelly - Happy halloween and drive safe

Whalen - did we ever consider having trick or treat on a better day? some communities do? Monday is the worse day.

Nutting - Not if your 6 years old

Whalen - how are you going to solve this issue and there was no suggestion of anything other than some windfall. We have to have some known sources. This was a fundamental disagreement on fiscal issues.

Pfeffer - If this is not the time to do so, what about the two bodies we let go?
Nutting - it wasn't bodies, those were vacancies. It went through the FinCom last week and it is on the agenda for next week.

Pfefer - did we not just hire somebody for the DPW?
Nutting - when you hire somebody it takes time, if we start now, it could bring them on for a few months and then potentially let them go.

Mason - this was a little bit of an unsettling issues, in my six years, this is the only time I have seen the Council in lock step. It is never our intention to be punitive. It was never about our teachers. We have children in schools, two of us were teachers. It is an argument that you can not make. Reminder that on Nov 8th you have a chance to vote on the new council and new school committee and other positions.

O.EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required


Live reporting - Action Items

Resuming after a break


3. Resolution 11-56: Amendment of FY 2012 Budget

to reduce the budget school budget line item by $350K

resolution made, seconded

Powderly - agree something said earlier tonight, that this measure is punitative, or punishing teachers, I thought about it hard, how to deal with this funding problem. What the research has shown me is that the SchCom has reserves that are available some restricted but some available. That can backfill this cut. That was primary for me to support this decision

Kelly - I think this boils down to a communication issue and it means we all need to communicate more. The biggest challenge we have is what do we say to the other police, fire etc in the town. It will likely result

Rohrbach - there are certain things that are reserved

Powderly - I was directed that the SchCom was not to answer any questions, I got this information via the Tonw Administrtor.

Rohrbach - what may be seen as simplistic is more complicated. The people where here for how long? And no one asked this question?

McGann - I find it hard to believe that all of here could have missed this?

Chandler Creedon - How do I deal with our teachers after our contract has been completed and negotiated on a sense of trust?

Whalen - I don't understand why it takes two years. We are broke! We have down sized 130 teachers and increase over 1000 students. It is extremely problematic for me. As long as raises are promised in a recess in a town where where there are no

Cafasso -figuring out the $350K is our job, the comments by the council have already jeopardized our bargaining position. Your decision is bottom line funding, let us do our job.

Mason - I am not going ot have another comment, we have a motion on the floor, let;s vote on it,

Unanimous roll call vote

1. Resolution 11-54:Chapter 61A – 1st Refusal Option – Land on Prospect Street
motion to approve, passed 9-0

2. Resolution 11-55: Refunding Bond Order
An interesting move to save money with advance refunding of some bonds that can be refinanced and money can be saved at about $28,000 per year for all those years. Plan to borrow the money on Nov 3rd.  It is a complicated process. Set up an escrow fund to pay off the fund that is not callable.

Pfeffer - Councilor Whalen caught this but shouldn't our contact have found this?
Dacey - He should have but he has been flat out with other refinancing like this.

motion to approve, passed 9-0

4. Resolution 11-57: Appropriation Stabilization Fund

motion to approve, passed 9-0
putting the money that was taken back from the school budget. Shouldn't we put this somewhere?

Mason - I don't think we can bite off more than we have already. I would recommend somehting be done but that be put on the next agenda? We are scheduled to meet Nov 2.

Live reporting - School budget discussion

Jeff Roy, Paula Mullen, Maureen Sabolinski, Miriam Goodman

Roy - explains that he had a prior engagement, has a deep respect for the Town Council and would have been here if he could.

The School Committee was doing what it thought best for the community in the negotiation of the contract. We ask that you respect our judgment as we respect your judgment in your decisions.

The negotiation of the salary table drives 70+ percent of the school cost. We are finally on the verge of the solution to reward teachers and to reduce costs. Agreement features interest based bargaining which is a win win win for teachers, community and school dept. The approach has received numerous endorsements and Franklin should be proud of our leading the way in this effort.

Franklin may be the first district to take up this challenge. Our Town Administrator will receive training in this IBB process as it will be bring benefits to the negotiations with Franklin's other unions.

The increase reached is substantially below any cost of living percent and the give backs the teachers and other unions have provided over the years.

These teachers and staff deserve praise for committing to working with us to reduce long term costs.

We ask you respectfully to not reduce the school department budget.

Paula Mullen while not repeating Jeff's comments also asks to not cut the budget.

Mason - I hear your comments, but you didn't address the budget for funding this going forward.
Roy - we have been in this position for each of the ten years looking at variances in revenue streams, I can't say what exactly it will be. I am looking long term. If we are able to tackle the salary table. It will be a substantially chunk of change that will adjust and more than made up the salary increase given this year. I think the benefit out weighs the burden this year.

Whalen - I don't believe the council has ever intervened in the school budget. That is your job and frankly that you do a very good job at it given the meager budget that the people of the town have chosen to provide. Where you make a decision that crosses over into what we had decided earlier this year, and did on the town side, and you chose to give out raises on your side. It is unaffordable. I don't think you strengthened the deal, I think you weakened it.

Roy - the contract was reached after 2 years of intense negotiations. We reached an agreement on a lot of points. I respectfully disagree that this will not be good for the district. You will realize savings beyond what we have ever achieved.

Whalen - There is no identified source for these raises this year. I read the info on IBB. Re-examined the salary table is in parties both best interest. So I don't agree that it would be in the best interest of one party to settle. The schedule change seems frivolous and a nusence, you should be ashamed for bringing it.

Roy - it is not a quid pro quo,so that needs to come off the table. That was resolved in May, the contract was not resolved until September. That is the whole basis for the interest based bargaining. If you saw our meeting last night, where the administration and union were sitting together talking on how to do this going forward.

Whalen - I am focused on the financial commitment that you signed us up for. What do we tell the other unions. I think you do a great job running the school dept. i think this was a really bad decision. There is no funding for this beginning in Jul 2012. I can not stress more that this does not mean we are against teachers The three who put in the most time on the last overrides were you, Jeff Nutting and myself.

McGann - You didn't answer the question
Roy - I can't predict what Chap 70 will be, I can't predict what our funding will be.

McGann - The teacher union should be thankful that you have a job. You have been contradicted on two statements. The $500K for the settlement would have been a one time hit. The increase is forever. It is an unpaying job and thankless job. I was with an elderly family this afternoon, she is a retired teacher and she can't believe it. everybody else gets nothing. Do you think it is fair?

Roy - I think it entirely fair that the teachers get something in this. They are tireless in their efforts. I have a lot of faith in these people. They have shown tremendous mission in support of our values.

McGann - I am absolutely sure about the teachers, just as I am about the DPW, police and fire, etc. And they got nothing. I think it is a slap in the face of this sitting council.

Bill Glynn - (School Committee member) with respect to something Whalen said about support to teachers. I hope in no way don't support teachers. I hope that goes away. I object to the use of the word "arbitrary". I went and checked this out. I wasn't at the negotiation table like the other here. Has anyone signed mutli year contracts with 0% increases. Has anyone gotten 0%, so nobody with multi year deals, Many of us work in the private sector, we tend to bring private sector views and how things work into the public sector. The SchCom didn't just bring things in and sit down. I would ask you to stop using that terminology.

Mason - we don't have the money.

Glynn - I have a video with slides. It is up on YouTube

Zollo - I think everyone needs to t take a deep breath. Although I didn't lead the charge on the last three overrides, I was there. I support the schools. Because we are in this together, let me try to put this together at least from a TC perspective. There is not a lot of money coming to Franklin. We are limited in our resources. There are not enough dollars out there. Stabilization is down, can't tape it. Chap 70 is not predictable any longer. Add to that the majority of the voting citizens don't want to pass an override. That is a bigger issue than tonight, but our neighbor communities don't have this problem. We have an acute problem here. We don't know how were are going to fund this. It is unsustainable. I find this laudable. You have to go after it as a SchCom and as a town. If you can achieve the savings, that will be good.  I went through that document and it is a try to make this work. It is not a binding agreement. As a lawyer the reliance on this is a problem. There is just no guarantee for the savings. The no-recurring revenue is the issue. That there is no recurring revenue is the issue here. As a council, we have tried to focus on job creation. At some point the town will kill itself with a death by a thousand cuts. Get a freeze and extend the jobs to maintain the services. The laudable objectives of IBB will be good, I can't rely on it now.

ROy - it takes a leap of faith and in the employees to deliver. It is interest based bargaining. It is our interest and it is in the interest of the FEA for job preservation. BOth sides viewing this issue with a common interest, it is a leap of faith. Having spent time with many of the teachers and staff over the 10 years. I don't have much of a doubt that we'll get there.

Zollo - I hope you are right. It is ahuge leap of faith. Although the numbers are significant, it can be a positive impact forthe town. i hope you are right. I don't have full confidence we will achieve it.

Roy - if you look at what we have accomplished, we can do this.

Cafasso - it is a significant driver to our budget. It can cost from $700 - 1.2 M to fund each year for the steps and lane cost. So what is the incentive for the FEA to bargain with us? it is to preserve jobs. As much it doesn't look like it, it is just as much of a job preservation strategy as saying no raise. I have fought with you. The website we ran for the override, six years old is still up/ The effort to pit one against another is not the intent. We want to put the incentive on teachers to continue to do good work with the students. On the budget, if I am fortunate to be back here after the election. We will figure it out. We get a number and work to balance the budget, fudn what we can and cut where we need to. If we have tomove things around and change priorities, we have to deliver the serve. These folks are the ones who do what we need to do. We are not asking you for any more money tonight. We are not going to ask you for any more money to fund raises next year.

Mason - you mentioned you don't know what the funding is. Will you change priorities? Will you layoff teachers?

Cafasso - I am not going to speak for the committee. We are 7 people, we will figure it out.

Pfeffer - We are here tonight because I asked a question and got an answer that there were no increases in the budget. It is very disappointing.

Roy - I have addressed that point on a number of occasions, I have reviewed the tape. At that point in the meeting, we were long past the SchCom line item in the budget. there were separate lines in the budget for schools and Tri-county and town. I did not believe that his answer was increase. We were not given an opportunity to speak to the budget. I ask through the chair that Mr Nutting be allowed to address that.

Mason - I'd like to address the insinuation that

Nutting - I was answering for the Town employees as it was line 910. It was all town employees. The compensation reserve budget would be larger if we are in the collective bargaining process.

Whalen - I find it very hard to believe that Judy was not asking if there were COLAs in the school budget. Youmentioned that the union will look to preserve jobs. If it is in their interest, would they have agreed to it?

Roy - They are here, you can ask them.

Whalen - I am getting the sense that there was a quid pro quo

crowd - no, no

Whalen - With what Ed was saying that you will look at your budget and figure out what to do. You made the situation much worse by increasing the deficit by giving the raises.

Roy - Do you believe that in an election year, a Federal election year, that they will not do something to help preserve the funding?

Whalen - I wouldn't count on it So you answer is you are looking for something out of left field.

Glynn - Shaoon put his finger on it, and the root cause tends to go back to the budget hearing. Was the answer incorrect or not forthcoming, so that is why we are here?

Pfeffer - yes, the Town administrator, answered no.

Glynn - Jeff didn't get a chance to present the school budget. I remember that question, Jeff Nutting did answer that question. It did not matter at that time, the contract was still in negotiating. (Roy - we reached impasse on Jun 6th, the hearing was Jun8th) The teachers contract had not been settled. All of the other contracts were settled. I know that and know that many of the councilors know that as well, as I voted against many of them. The teachers contract hadn't been settled, I knew that you knew that all those other contracts had been settled. I thought we were going to have that discussion. I thought the council was going to give way because of the negotiation. That was well done, to not include the school, to not include what we couldn't achieve. The town side employees also have a steps and lanes contract. I see confusion and miss-communication.

Mason - we can agree we weren't on the same page, if we knew there was 1 percent, we wouldn't be sitting here this evening.

Roche - there was no representation to the FinCom about the raises. We will be changing the budget process to get more information. Certainly a lot of things get shifted around m so it hard to get to know what is going on. We need to get stronger joint budget subcommittee.

Goodman - the number of employees and line item details is available on the website. It is presented in the annual budget and reviewed monthly.

Nutting - I think it is very hard to announce when in negotiating to announce how much is in the budget.

zollo - know of us, all you had to do was tell us. We did not know. You can argue until the cows come home. Had it been known it would have been a different discussion.

Seth Diamond - teacher and negotiating chair. You had 2 % and we settled for one. One I think that we need to talk about this 1% as a cola and it is not. The steps and lanes increase until 13 years.

Mason - I don't see this as a teacher issue nor a union issue, I will give you some latitude. this is a funding issue.

Diamond - was this 1% increase an agreement to do the IBB, no. We agreed to the subcommittees long before the contract was agreed to. Every year we try to move education forward. We dothings maybe folks don't uunderstand. MCGann, talked about other employees getting their 8 hours. Teachers don't get overtime, if you were topay them overtime, it would be 16.5 per half hour. What are you paying them 2.5 per day. That is a pretty good return. Don;t punish teachers now for continuing to drive forward educating our students.

Mason - We have no interest in punishing the teachers, no matter what we do tonight, the teachers will get their raise.

Cafasso - it is hard to argue that the ScCom is not fiscally responsible. To say that the 1% and the .5% will result in something is not good, there is alot of things going on. TO point to the SchCom for layoffs or budget cuts next year, to say it is our fault and to that we didn;t think about it. We spent two years doing this. we were elected to do t his. Don't portray us as we were snookered as we weren't

Powderly - I think we are arguing over the definition of 'is' here. miscommunication on everybody's part. 20 people How you appropriate your funding it is your decision, we are not involved in your day to day decisions. There is a whole list of things this is not about. All those things are true. i made a decision in June that was made upon incorrect information. You have stated tonight that you will not be asking for more money next year, but you will be, asking for more than I wanted. The easy way out was not to have this discussion  There is a $350K elephant in the room. If you want to make an autonomous decision, you need to make an autonomous funding.

Roy - can I respond?
Mason - If you aks for it, yes

Roy - your premise on what we will be asking for, you don't know what will happen next year. You need to have some faith we will solve it.

Powderly - You budget is $350K more than everybody thought it would be. To say we are not going to have limited resources in disingenuos. There is one pie,you grew that pie against the TC policy. It is in your purview. It is our view that this is our funding issue.

Mason - we can't predict the funding, we can predict the trend. Of the 29 neighboring town, we are #1 in the funding from the State. What we do know is that money is declining. We have laid off 130 teachers, we want to reverse this. I saw a lot of teachers here tonight. You know darn well when you ahve 27-28-29 students in the classroom,

Donna Grady - teacher at Keller,also part of the teacher union, on average x teachers were laid off a year, we were asked to defer a raise to save teachers, we did defer and did not get the raise and yet teachers did get laid off.

Whalen - all of the collected bargaining units in town deferred the raise that year. You (teachers union) were the only one that bargained for it.  It is basic math, it is going to be more layoffs

Grady - if you are using the terms of contract versus salary increase, if you want to say we got compensation for language. We are still operating with the budget cuts and teacher cuts. We had not contract for 2 years, and we still laid off teachers. To say that the contract as a whole leads to layoffs is misleading

Mason - do you think with no raises and layoffs with a raise you wont have layoffs?

Whalen - in a town where the town doesn't pass overrides, where there are limited resources in funding in a recessionary funding/

Zollo - you are right, we are not alleging, the cost of the increase is what we are talking to

Jones - the majority of the funds going to retain teachers?
Jones - the council was told that 14.5 teachers would be cut, it that correct?

Roy - In Feb when the budget presentation was imitated, that was the forecast. Things changed along the way,we had some attrition with 16 senior teachers leaving, additional health care savings, by Jun we were not reducing 14 teachers, we reduced 5

Jones - if you were to put yourself in our shoes, and this may happen soon, we can't fund an ambulance, we cant fund a dispatcher, put in our situation this past June what decision would you have made?

Roy - I am not going to sit here and judge the decision, I respect the judgments you make. I do not have access to the information that you have. I think it would be in poor taste to sit here and say what I would have done

Jones - would you have felt in Jun, that there was missed information, would you have felt differently?

Roy -

Michelle Conran - 16 year teacher, I was involved in the alleged trivial suit that was mentioned by Mr Whalen. When you don't have the facts, it is difficult to characterized a situation. The reason why we pursued the situation, we saw a clear violation of law, we saw teachers with an additional 125 hours over the course of the year. For the benefit of the students with an average class size of 27-28. Teachers have a full time load,part time taking course, because we have a feeling for our profession. Just to get the point across, I would like to correct you. I would like to thank the SchCom to work through it, with tough times. As far as I am concerned, we had the evidence.

Whalen - I think the teachers should start at 50K and end at 120K and get performance based.

Mason - this is not a teacher issue, this is not a union issue. There are five of us that worked our tails off for the prior overrides. That is not the issue. It is funding

Rohrbach - I have been sitting here listening. We have all known each other for many years. We have the same intentions. We have taken different paths. We have two different philosophies. I  suggest that the Joint Budget Subcommittee meet on more regular basis. To build toward a common ground. Something went wrong. The bigger problem is the difference is in philosophy. The one thing that the SchCom never wanted town services sacrificed for the school budget. we want everyone to do the best job that they can with the amount of money we have.

Ro y - I am delighted that we had the opportunity to come here tonight/ You are in a thankless position.I respect the decision you make. I don't view this as a rift, I view this as growth and progress..



Live reporting - Town Council - Oct 26

Present: Kelly, Jones, Vallee, Whalen, Mason, Pfeffer, McGann,

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – September 14, 2011
motion to approve - passed 9-0

recorded by Verizon, Comcast and Franklin Matters



Council on Aging

  • Robert Crowley
  • Carolyn O’Brien
motion to appoint, passed 9-0