Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tina Powderly answers 3 questions

2 years ago, Tina Powderly and I got together to do this interview when she ran for Town Council for her first term in 2009. Now running for re-election, we got together again to answer 3 questions.

FM - Tell me a bit about yourself, your family and your life here in Franklin?

TP - I am the daughter of an Army soldier so my childhood was very transient. We moved around all over the US and we even lived in Germany for awhile. I went to college at Georgetown University in Washington and received my bachelor’s in business. After college I worked for a health economics and health care industry consulting firm. Then I came to Massachusetts to study for my Masters in Public Health at Harvard. I worked as the Manager for Community Health Center Affiliations at Partners and then moved to Franklin about 10 years ago. Now, all three of my children are enrolled in the Franklin public schools.

FM - What experience or background will help you to serve in this role? or What do you think makes you a good candidate to fulfill this role?

TP - In terms of experience and background and what makes me a strong candidate for this position, I would divide it into two buckets: personal and professional.

From my personal background, again, my father was an Army pilot and my mother was a nurse. The two of them instilled in me the importance of serving your community. My father did it on a national level but it is just as important to do that on a local level. They really ‘walked the walk’ in their everyday lives. They also taught me to respect the differences of others. I believe it is imperative to success to have differences between people. Whether it’s in one’s background (something you can see - age, religion) or in one’s philosophy or temperament, in order to foster solutions that are well rounded, one needs to consider all the viewpoints of everybody involved.

From my professional background, my work and educational experiences in finance and management in health care and public health are key. In Franklin, I was on the Finance Committee for a year and I am finishing my first term on the Town Council. While on the Council I was on the budget subcommittee, the liaison to the Long Range Planning Committee and Chair of the Senior Outreach Committee. Being Chair of the Senior Outreach Committee has driven some of the most rewarding work I have done. Something as simple as the Senior Center Breakfast, which I absolutely enjoy, has introduced me to a great group of people. With my personal life centered on the school system and my young children, I have to actively reach out to gain that perspective.

This past year, the Town Council did a pretty large expansion of tax credits and tax breaks for Seniors. It is not often that you can see something from the start to finish and that was very gratifying. The tax assistance programs also appealed to my public health training. You can have great policy but there is a whole soft side to the implementation of policy. A lot of it has to do with the stigma of receiving assistance. It is not enough to have the right numbers and long term goals. You have to do outreach. You have to manage the perception. You have to market it well. It’s accomplishments like this that make me feel I have a nice mix of experience and yet a fresh perspective and energy to bring to the Council.

FM - What do you see as your role’s biggest challenge and do you have any suggestions on how we can resolve it?

TP - I would say in general it is our limited resources, which stems from a few different places. We have a trajectory of declining state aid that is not going to turn around, and we have residents living with this huge burden of the recession. It is tough to deal with these two factors at a time when we are facing one of the most important capital investment decisions before Franklin in decades – the high school. The original rational for investing in the high school started around accreditation and what we need to do to be compliant. The particulars of Franklin High School led us to the point we are at now, which is an invitation to participate in the new model school and receive up to 58% reimbursement from the state for the costs.

In addition to compliance and the physical building, addressing the high school is also about bringing Franklin’s children into the 21st century. Renovating the existing building doesn’t address the constraints of our excellent teachers to really teach their craft to their best of their ability. You can look at outdated science classrooms or academic classrooms that are smaller than ideal. There is a lot of wasted space in hallways. When your high school doesn’t have a gathering place and you have to use the middle school auditorium, and then you talk about the technology limitations, if you are really going to prepare our students for the world that is out there, the building at Franklin High is inhibiting that. Our teachers do an amazing amount with very limited resources but they can only do so much. The new model school has more classrooms and more academic space and is designed in a way that our administrators and teachers believe is more beneficial to the student’s experience.

For me, with the high school in the background, and all the limited resources, figuring out how to meet my priorities of education and public safety is really the key. So how would I address that and resolve that? I do believe that one of the best things an elected official can do is commit to communication and transparency. I take responsibility for anything I could have done better in these last 2 years. Very specifically, I was on the Town Council budget subcommittee. Being the new kid on the block I wasn’t really aware of how the Joint Budget Subcommittee worked. Who called the meetings, how often did they normally meet? I could have been more proactive and I will take that lesson into the future. Recent events have shown that having that group meet faithfully is really important. I spent a lot of time as a new councilor trying to improve communications and transparency with the residents. If you email me, I will write back. If you call me, I will call you back. That is a really important piece. I have a website and a Facebook page. I am committed to continuing that. I know also that communicating with your peers is also important and I need to do a better job at that.

While you’re doing all this, you need to have an eye on both short term fixes and long term fixes. One option to increase revenues is to explore PILOT payments (PILOT - Payment in lieu of taxes, generally focused on non-profits who are tax exempt). This is a very sensitive issue. Whether we do it or not, you owe it to the residents to examine it. A subcommittee was just formed that I am on and I’d like to spend time during the next term to really examine the pros and cons of it.

There are long term fixes to focus on as well. I am the liaison to the Long Range Financial Planning committee and they are looking at legislative changes. One big ticket item is around EPA storm water regulations. There is a push for legislation to require non-phosphorus fertilizers. The municipalities would save lots of money trying to manage their storm water if phosphorus was out of the equation. Supporting that, advocating for that helps us on the back end. This legislation could help us avoid tens of millions of dollars in the long run. It is about thinking long term and strategically. Sometimes it is easy to think only within Franklin and focus on that. How do we plow the roads and get the kids on buses to their school? But you also have to balance that with this long term piece, like state level legislation. I’d like to be a little more active on that front.

For additional information from Tina you can visit her website
http://www.tinapowderly.com/ and her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TinaPowderly

"proposed site plan modification would change BJ's hours"

"They're going to be open more hours, which means more people blowing out of BJ's," said Gordon Jenkins, who lives on Conlyn Avenue, which runs behind the store. "Something has got to be done about that (intersection)." 
Neighbors at last night's meeting live in a subdivision next to the store, and contend they can only leave their neighborhood through the intersection of West Central Street and Corporate Drive, where BJ's is located. 
A blinking yellow light faces motorists driving on West Central Street, while a blinking red light faces those coming out of Corporate Drive. 
"We have to pass through that intersection to get out, we're basically an island," said Lauren Chousa, who said she was the 11th person in her neighborhood to get into an accident at the intersection. "The only way to get to and from our street is through this intersection, and to drive through it is honestly a nightmare."

Read more: http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/x603496464/Franklin-planners-put-off-decision-on-BJs-hours#ixzz1cRkqE2wR

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Census releases new data on state and local taxes

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  Noah Berger
  (617) 426-1228 x102

Census releases new data on state and local taxes 

October 31, 2011

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual update of State and Local Government Finances, providing national data for Fiscal Year 2009. The amount of state and local taxes paid in Massachusetts as a share of total personal income was 9.8 percent in FY 2009. By this measure, Massachusetts had lower taxes than 32 other states. Measuring taxes as a share of total personal income allows for a meaningful comparison among states.

Taxes are the amount that each resident pays toward--and the primary source of funding for--everything the people of a state choose to provide together through government, such as: public education; police and fire protection; roads, bridges and other infrastructure; environmental protection, parks, playgrounds, libraries; and a safety net to protect access to health care and other supports families depend on--particularly when they are faced with acute challenges.

The fact sheet Massachusetts Ranks 33rd in Taxes in FY 2009 is available here.   

MassBudget provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies, as well as economic issues, with particular attention to the effects on low- and moderate-income people.

This email was sent to shersteve@gmail.com by nberger@massbudget.org |  
Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center | 15 Court Square | Suite 700 | Boston | MA | 02108

In the News - David, fire safety, storm fallout, preschool fair

Meet the Franklin candidate, William David, Planning Board

Massachusetts fire marshal issues CO, fire safety warnings

Area towns still dealing with storm fallout

DOR proposes to expand tax practitioner electronic filing

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Commonwealth Conversations: Revenue by Robert Bliss on 10/31/11

The Department of Revenue has issued a draft Technical Information Release  that would require income tax preparers who reasonably expect to file more than 10 returns in a calendar year to file those returns electronically.

The existing rule established in 2004 required tax preparers filing 100 or more returns annually to file electronically. Before that, the threshold was 200 returns.

The new, lower threshold of more than 10 is proposed to take effect January 1, 2012, and would parallel an Internal Revenue Service electronic filing threshold taking place on that date.
While it is hard to say precisely how many additional tax returns would be filed electronically under this new rule, it is safe to say that it would insure continued growth in electronic filing, which increased by 10 percent in tax year 2010 over tax year 2009.

Just among tax practitioner, the number of returns filed electronically increased by 153,983, going from 1.668 million in 2009 to 1.822 million in 2010.

Overall, of 3.424 million tax returns filed in 2010, just 225,672 were paper returns imaged and keyed, a decrease of 56,658 from the previous year. Another 542,487 paper returns came in with 2D barcodes (down 129,063 from the previous year); these are paper returns that are read electronically due to the barcode.

The new rule is likely to reduce the number of 2D barcode returns, virtually all of which are filed by tax practioners, in half. 

Things you can do from here:

Flu Season is Here – Get Vaccinated Today.

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

DPH picPosted by Donna Lazorik, RN, MS. Donna is the Immunization Coordinator in the Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The best way to protect yourself and your family from getting sick this flu season is to get vaccinated.  This is true even if you were vaccinated last season.  Health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccine every year.  That's because flu can be very serious – every year in Massachusetts, an average of 5,000 residents are hospitalized due to complications from the flu, resulting in up to 800 deaths.  The good news is that many of these hospitalizations and deaths are preventable.
Getting a flu vaccine is especially important if you or someone in your family:
  • Is pregnant
  • Has a chronic health condition like asthma, diabetes, or heart, lung, liver, or kidney disease
  • Is immuno-suppressed
  • Is very overweight
  • Is 50 years of age or older.
 Flu vaccination is important for children younger than 5 years of age, who are at higher risk of serious flu complications if they get the flu.  For the same reason, if you're a caregiver or household contact of children less than five years old it's important that you get vaccinated as well.
 The flu vaccine is safe, effective, and widely available.  There is more vaccine available this year than ever before!
 To find out where to get the flu vaccine:
  • Call your health care provider;
  • Contact your local health department;
  • Check with your local pharmacy; or 
  • Visit the Massachusetts Flu Clinic website for a list of flu clinics near you. 
 For more information, please visit www.mass.gov/flu or call the Department of Public Health Immunization Program at (617) 983-6800.

Things you can do from here:

Monday, October 31, 2011

October Storm Update 10/31/11

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "TOWN OF FRANKLIN" <email@blackboardconnect.com>
Date: Oct 31, 2011 2:50 PM
Subject: October Storm Update 10/31/11
To: <shersteve@gmail.com>

Good Afternoon. This is Gary Premo calling with an update on the Nor' Easter snow storm. National Grid continues to work 24 hours a day to restore power. They still predict a prolonged recovery, possibly into Thursday. The Remington school, 628 Washington Street, remains open as a shelter. The phone number is 1-508-541-2143. If you are in need of a hot meal, dinner tonight is 4p-630p; breakfast tomorrow 7a-9a and lunch 11a-1p. If you require shelter, please bring sleeping bags/blankets, towels and toiletries and any medications needed; pets are NOT permitted. All public schools will be closed Tuesday November 1st. Due to public safety concerns, trick or treating has been postponed until Friday 11/4. The recycling center will be open 12n-6p this Tue-Thu, 8a-6p on Fri, 8a-3p on Sat and 11a-4p on Sunday. Thank you for your patience. We will be updating you on a daily basis. Thank you and goodbye.

To listen to the above message, you will need audio software and speakers on your computer.

This e-mail has been sent to you by TOWN OF FRANKLIN. To maximize their communication with you, you may be receiving this e-mail in addition to a phone call with the same message. If you wish to discontinue this service, please inform TOWN OF FRANKLIN either IN PERSON, by US MAIL, or by TELEPHONE at (508) 520-4938. THIS E-MAIL ADDRESS IS NOT MONITORED. Please do not reply to this e-mail as we are not able to respond to messages sent to this address.

"a society that honors the servant but has forgotten the gift"

A video for Monday. Making a connection on the divided brain. What?

Does this have anything to do with Franklin Matters?

Yes, it does. Watch. Listen. Think.

This will help us understand the paradox. "Einstein said 'The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. The rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant but has forgotten the gift."


In the news - Pfeffer, nor'easter

Meet the Franklin candidate: Judith Pond Pfeffer, Town Council

Nor'easter turns out the lights in region

Extensive power outages after storm, schools closed Monday

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Storm Update 10/30/11

Good Afternoon. This is Gary Premo calling with information regarding the recent snow storm. National Grid reports 5107 Franklin customers are without power. They predict a prolonged recovery, possibly into Thursday. Overnight temperatures are expected to drop into the 20's. We have opened the Remington/Jefferson school, 628 Washington Street, for a shelter. Food is available. Please bring sleeping bags, towels and toiletries; pets are NOT permitted. All public schools will be closed Monday October 31st. We are recommending that you refrain from trick or treating tomorrow, however, if you do bring your kids out, please stay away from downed trees/wires. Thank you for your patience. We will be updating you on a daily basis. Thank you and goodbye.

To listen to the above message, you will need audio software and speakers on your computer.
This e-mail has been sent to you by TOWN OF FRANKLIN. To maximize their communication with you, you may be receiving this e-mail in addition to a phone call with the same message. If you wish to discontinue this service, please inform TOWN OF FRANKLIN either IN PERSON, by US MAIL, or by TELEPHONE at (508) 520-4938. THIS E-MAIL ADDRESS IS NOT MONITORED. Please do not reply to this e-mail as we are not able to respond to messages sent to this address.

Oct Nor'easter

Hello, this is Brutus Cantoreggi your director of public works calling with important information about last night October snow storm.

As of 7AM this morning, there are a number of roads that are closed due to trees in utility lines or broken utility poles. The major roads that are closed are sections of Lincoln St and Elm Street and numerous roadways in the Longhill area. There are many trees or branches close to on the roadways in many areas, to if you need to drive somewhere, be cautious

The are also many roadways with low hanging wires. Please avoid all wires, as they maybe live and could hurt you.

There are many areas of Town without power at this time. We are unsure of when power will be restored to everyone. If you have lost power, please contact NGrid directly.

In order to expedited the clean up, please try and stay off the roadways unless it is an emergency.

Do check in on love ones and neighbors and make sure they are OK.

Thank you.

To listen to the above message, you will need audio software and speakers on your computer.
This e-mail has been sent to you by TOWN OF FRANKLIN. To maximize their communication with you, you may be receiving this e-mail in addition to a phone call with the same message. If you wish to discontinue this service, please inform TOWN OF FRANKLIN either IN PERSON, by US MAIL, or by TELEPHONE at (508) 520-4938. THIS E-MAIL ADDRESS IS NOT MONITORED. Please do not reply to this e-mail as we are not able to respond to messages sent to this address.

Sean Donahue answers 3 questions

Candidate Sean Donahue is a recent graduate from Bryant with a major in Communications. Since he also is a product of the Franklin Public School system (FHS Class of 2007), he can bring a unique perspective to the School Committee. We got together recently and Sean provided his answers to these three questions.

FM - Tell me a bit about yourself, your family and your life here in Franklin?

SD - My story is a little different from the others running as I am not yet raising a family. My family moved here just before I was born because Franklin was a great place to raise a family. It had a great school system. Will it stay that way, I’m not so sure, but I hope I can help be a part of ensuring it does. My sister and I grew up here. We both went through the school system. We were very involved in the schools; I was in the National Honor Society, Peer Leadership, I did the band all through middle school to high school and then did Jazz band in college. I did the meteorology club with Mr. Schliefke. I did soccer and tennis in high school. I was the manager for the soccer team after freshman year.

From high school, I went to Bryant University. I graduated summa cum laude with a major in Communications. I did a research paper on possible factors to predict students would be interested in studying abroad and presented it at a conference in front of top communication scholars from across the country. That was a good experience. I was Treasurer and Secretary (at different times) for the Communications Society on campus. I got to put together and present and defend budgets, and while not on the same scale as here, I managed to increase our budget 10% in a time when they were cutting budgets. Being honest about the budget was one of the keys for our success. We put in what we needed and were able to justify it. We found what was important and were able to defend that honestly.

For my honors capstone project, I did research and a paper on negative political advertising. I got to present that in front of the school president, a former U.S. Congressman, so that was a great experience. When I graduated I was named the top student in both Communications and Political Science. I also had a Business Administration minor with a 4.0 GPA, so I have taken classes in Accounting, Finance, and all that, many of them at the elevated honors level. So I have a good background in business and communications and communications is a big issue here currently.

FM - What experience or background will help you to serve in this role? or What do you think makes you a good candidate to fulfill this role?

SD - I think what makes me unique is that I am a fairly recent graduate of the high school. I am still very familiar with what is going on there. As I am going around, I talk with parents and their kids tell them of, what they feel are overly tough classes and I had some of those same classes and teachers that were tough too. While I may have been frustrated and not have realized it at the time, some of them I came to find out actually prepared me better than any others for college. I can bring that different perspective and share what is important. There is not that much diversity on the School Committee in that I believe all the members bring the perspective of parents, which isn’t a bad thing. I have a lot of respect for the people in this position. It is a lot of work and unpaid and I give them a lot of credit for making it possible to receive the education I got here. However, I can bring my unique perspective to the committee and maybe we can change some things.

Unfortunately, these are tough times and in the discussions around what can be cut, I can help add what is important. There is a lot more to school than standardized test scores. Just because this school’s test scores are going up doesn’t mean that they are doing a better job. Are they preparing people for college properly? Are they preparing people for the work force? I talked with lots of people about the AP program. It has gone downhill recently. There are less offerings. The test score performance is not there. In some cases, the books are out of date. The AP Program is an area that can really help students stand out on the transcript and get into good colleges and it’s certainly something that helped me.

FM - What do you see as your role’s biggest challenge and do you have any suggestions on how we can resolve it?

SD - There are multiple challenges facing the School Committee. The major item has to be the high school building project. The School Committee needs to assist the School Building Committee in sharing information on the need for the building and really answer the question “Why?” We need to remember that the New England Association of Schools and Colleges has had the high school on warning status for several years because of the issues with the educational effectiveness (actually lack thereof) of the building. The reason they are on “warning” and not on “probation” is that they have shown progress on the school project. Without this issue being addressed, the high school ends up on probation, if we continue to fail to address it, accreditation can go away and even on probation the prospects of high school graduates getting into the college of their choice decrease and getting state and federal funding which we’ve relied so much on can become much more difficult.

Renovation is not a real option as the work would be so disruptive. My college has been under renovation while I was in class, and I can say first hand it is not conducive to learning. When we go back in after the work is done, we’d see the same walls and floors. Much of the money would have been spent on the interior and infrastructure (wiring and boilers, etc stuff that you don’t see) and we could rightfully say, we paid for what? The work wouldn’t be visible. Then when you factor in the nearly 58% the state will fund for the new school, but not renovation, the new building option seems to be the clear choice. We get more school for less money.

We need to do a better job communicating why we need the school. If the vote is coming in March, they are running out of time. If you don’t get the good information out there, it leaves the opportunity for the opponents to lead the discussion with their set of miss-information.

I hear people say, why couldn’t it have been better maintained. For whatever the reasons, we are passed that now. We have a choice of major renovation or build the new school. With the State agreeing to do the model school, that is our best option. We’ll need to look to the future to maintain the new building and our other schools to avoid this scenario the next time.

There are a lot of minor things on the communications front, the School Committee website can be more effective. It is hardly used. The calendar is not updated. The meeting minutes are delayed in getting posted. The School Committee blog is a good thing but it would be nice to see more use of that. And finding more way to get the public involved. There actually is a Facebook page for the School Committee, I think there are like 30 people on it. Can the Committee utilize the schools contact listing for the parents? Sending something out with details after the meetings would be a good way to spread the proper information.

The School Committee meetings themselves could be adjusted to be more of a mix between good news and challenges. The meeting agendas are heavily weighed to share good news, which is good but then when you get to ask for money, there is seems to be little justification for it. They have a presentation say on a summer program, on how good it is, and people are there and then later in the meeting they get to talk about a budget item and no one is there, they have left.

When I started the campaign, I thought people we happy with how the schools were doing considering the budget issues. The more I have talked with folks, I find that not is not the case. I ran into one of my former teachers, now retired, and he ask: “So you’re running to fix this screwed up school system?”

What I haven’t mentioned much during the campaign, is I have 10 years of experience in journalism – starting at a paper that was all college graduates while I was still 13 and at Horace Mann – and including more recent work for the Associated Press and ESPN Boston. Through that I’ve learned to become a great listener and to ask the right questions to get to the heart of problems. I think that skillset will also serve me well on the school committee.

For additional information on Sean’s campaign for School Committee, you can visit his website http://donahueforfranklin.com/ or his page on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/donahueforfranklin

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Agenda - Nov 2







G. LICENSE TRANSACTIONS – T.D. Beverage Inc. D/B/A Tedeschi Food Shop



1. Resolution 11-58: Appropriation: Library – Prior Year- Salaries
2. Resolution 11-59: Appropriation: Recreation – Prior Year- Salaries
3. Resolution 11-60: Appropriation: OPEB Actuary Study
4. Resolution 11-61: Appropriation: Nustyle Demolition
5. Resolution 11-62: Appropriation: Roads/Sidewalks/Drainage/Storm Water/Infrastructure
6. Resolution 11-63: Amendment of the FY 2012 Budget
7. Bylaw Amendment 11-665:Amendment to Chapter 82, Appendix A – List of Service Fee Rates 2nd Reading





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


The full set of documents associated with this agenda can be found on the Franklin website

In the News - Dellorco, veterans

Meet the Franklin Candidate: Robert Dellorco, Town Council

Veterans Agents face challenges tracking down younger soldiers

The Recipe Project (video)

The Recipe Project. A cool idea.

I guess we'll need to keep looking to see what we can do that will be different, fun, etc. with the recipes Michelle is pulling together for the Pantry Cookbook.

Any suggestions?

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