Monday, September 27, 2021

FM #612 - Town Council Candidate Tom Mercer - 09/22/21 (audio)

FM #612 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 612 in the series. 

This shares my conversation with candidate for Town Council Tom Mercer. 

This is one of a series of conversations with candidates for the Franklin Election on Nov 2, 2021. I do this to provide Franklin, MA voters with accurate and timely information that they can use to cast an informed vote.  Publication of the answers or interview responses does not constitute an endorsement of this or any candidate.

We cover the candidate questions as previously developed with the community and shared with the candidates. Five of the questions are ‘general’ in nature, the sixth is specific to the role of the candidate. In this case, for the Town Council.

Our conversation runs about 21 minutes, so let’s listen to my interview with Tom Mercer.  Audio file ->


Candidate questions -> 

Contact info:

Election Collection 2021 -> 


We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio ( 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  or 

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 Candidate Tom Mercer
Town Council Candidate Tom Mercer

Denise Spencer: School Committee meeting reminder - 9/28/21 - 7 PM

Shared from Twitter:

Denise Spencer: School Committee meeting reminder - 9/28/21 - 7 PM
Denise Spencer: School Committee meeting reminder - 9/28/21 - 7 PM

Franklin TV: "Demand! Videos on Demand – and now, Podcasts on Demand"

by Pete Fasciano, Executive Director 09/26/2021

The media world keeps expanding. Our services keep expanding. And with that, the work to support them, but expand we must. People demand on demand services. This week we have added audio podcasts to our wfpr●fm website. Not only can you listen live, anytime, anywhere, you can now listen to any of wfpr●fm’s past programs – on demand, as audio podcasts.

Our entire podcast library is online at wfpr●fm. Click on ‘Past Shows’. Easy! They are also posted on Franklin Matters.

That’s a lot of podcasts. Like the old George Carlin skit on those Fabulous TV Music Collections: Every Recording Ever Made. “Take a 10 year sabbatical and listen to these fine recordings.”

Question: Is podcasting in your future? What would your podcast sound like? We can help. Let’s discuss. You could be on the radio – on demand – and in demand as a podcast.

Call us at 509=541-4118, or email us at: info@wfpr●fm, or info@Franklin●TV
And –  as always –
Thank you for listening to wfpr●fm
And, thank you for watching. Podcasts on Demand Podcasts on Demand

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

Mass. Public Health: Get Outraged! Information on vaping

"Vapes come in all shapes and sizes. But most have one thing in common: nicotine. 
Get Outraged was created to help parents uncover the truth about vaping and keep kids healthy and safe. 
Learn more at " or

Shared from Twitter:

Video link ->

Dan Rather: We Need a New Vocabulary For Our Politics...

Terminology is always key. I have told a story that grass is green, Your grass maybe greener than mine or vice versa, but we both know 'green grass'. When it comes to ordering a particular shade of green, the color match becomes critical and the terminology plays more of a role. Emerald green, lime green, dark green... You get the point. 

The conservation of the terms we use for politics distorts how quickly our politics can and has changed.  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Dan Rather: We Need a New Vocabulary For Our Politics...

Why have I started this post with a picture of an old telephone? Because I've been thinking a lot lately that what we call a "phone" today is nothing like what we used to call a phone. 

I know this is no great revelation, but bear with me for a moment, because I believe there is a strong parallel to be made between this observation and what we are seeing in our current political world, and how we talk about it. 

Simply put, we use vocabulary from the past to talk about the present in a way that can, if we are not careful, be very distorting. Much like the powerful computer/camera/reader/flashlight/alarm clock/tracking device we carry around in our purses or pockets has only a tangential relation to traditional notions of the telephone, the nomenclature we use to reference political parties, the courts, and the other institutions of our civic life is equally tenuous. 

Democrats, Republicans, moderates, liberals, conservatives - we use these terms as if they are rooted and unchanging in their definitions, like, say, mountains, oceans, or apples. But there is a big difference between the words we use to describe the constructions of human society and those we use for nature. When it comes to how we live and interact, we are agents of increasingly rapid change. We use words to try to create common understandings and tie the present to the past. But broad terms cover up the diversity of the human experience, and how things change over time. People live in "homes" all over the world. But a "house" in one place can be very different from a "house" somewhere else. And certainly our homes today are similar but also very different from the houses of the past. 

The conservation of the terms we use for politics distorts how quickly our politics can and has changed. We must remember we are a very young country. Only 245 years (a little over three average modern American lifespans) separates our current time from the Declaration of Independence. For me, at least, that fact never ceases to shock. It resonates how much we have changed, and how quickly. 

We need to really think hard about how antiquated some of our descriptions for our current state of affairs have become. Let's start with who makes up the citizenship of our country. It is nothing like what it was, even in the not-too-distant past. We are much more diverse, by any metric you could think of. We are also more urban, more educated, and more mobile. And yet there is a strong bias to think of "average Americans" as those who would be conjured up in decades past. Proof of this can be found in the seeming obsession by the political press to hunker down for interviews with voters in rural diners. These Americans are asked their opinion about the direction of the country a lot more than a young immigrant in the Bronx. 

Because political parties are tied to voters, the changes noted above have also led to tremendous change around what it means to be a Democrat and Republican. When I was younger, we talked of the "solid South," which referred to the lock the Democrats had on the Southern states - a legacy of the Civil War. Looking at present political maps, the red-blue divide looks very different. The South is Republican, which again has a lot to do with race and the legacy of the Civil War, except that the affiliation of the political parties has changed.

In 2020, however, Biden won two Southern states - Virginia (which has become an increasingly blue state) and also Georgia. That's because states change as well. Both of those states increasingly have become places that draw an educated workforce to cities and suburbs, and this cohort has become more reliably Democratic voters. So yes we can talk about Georgia and Virginia as part of the South, or even part of the original 13 colonies, but what that means for today is different from what it meant in the past. In a counter example, West Virginia was once one of the most Democratic states in the union and now it is one of the most Republican. 

Once one acknowledges all this churn it brings into question some of the other descriptive terminology we tend to use. What really is a conservative, a liberal, a moderate? How can you be a conservative and care nothing about conserving the planet? How can you be called a moderate and do nothing to moderate the greatest assault on democracy in generations? Is it a liberal value to adhere to the science of vaccines? 

This idea of conservative and liberal becomes even more strained when we try to apply it to the courts, particularly the current Supreme Court. We talk about the "conservative" justices, as if they are holding back the mobs to protect the sanctity of the Constitution. In reality they are laying waste to settled Constitutional rights and condoning attacks on our democratic process. Doesn't seem very conservative to me. 

I would humbly suggest that journalists in particular pay attention to these questions of semantics. Because what you call something matters. It shapes how the public sees reality. The term "liberal" might suggest a movement that is unrestrained, whereas "conservative" might suggest a movement that is secure and grounded. Is that really an accurate portrayal of Democrats and Republicans today? Even the idea of two equal political parties simply vying for votes, Democrats this and Republicans that, is a mischaracterization of what each of these parties has become and how they function. Political parties in our history have had leaders, but they have not been cults of personality. The terminology of a "party" suggests a core set of beliefs, a platform on which candidates run, even if they do not agree on all the issues. But today's Republicans are less a party than a mass movement with fealty to a would-be authoritarian. They didn't even try to produce a platform for the 2020 campaign. Instead, their voters, in a party that long championed "family values," embraced a man who was morally bankrupt. This included a vast majority of white, evangelical voters. Similarly, the party that piously lectured on fiscal responsibility when Democrats wanted to spend money, eagerly opened the checkbook to a grifter. 

It is understandable that we seek to hold on to familiar terms to try to make sense of the present. That's how language works. We need some common points of comprehension. And languages do evolve. But it takes time. Right now, we don't have time to sit back and wait. We need to develop the words that accurately describe the dangers we are seeing. We can't let comfortable euphemisms and terminology cloud out the truths of our moment. To try to come up with new ways to describe our politics is not an easy undertaking, but it is a necessary one. If we hope to accurately diagnose what ails us and find solutions rooted in the current reality, we must let go of the definitions of the past.

Share this Sunday Essay

© 2021 Dan Rather 
111 Sutter Street, 7th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104

"Vaccines shine in preventing deaths"

Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH (@ashishkjha) tweeted on Sat, Sep 25, 2021:
"The southern surge is slowing

And cases in some Northern states rising

So it is all seasonal? Are vaccines working?

Let's look at data

Today the 10 LEAST vaccinated states had

2X the cases
3X the hospitalizations
5X the deaths

compared to 10 most vaccinated states

Thread ->

A lot of folks have been arguing the summer surge was "seasonal" And now, the northern half of US poised to get hit And if you look at states with biggest outbreaks today Alaska, ID, WY, WV, MT, KY, ND Largely not in the deep south So should all northern states worry? 2/4

While we see cases rising in northern states There are two distinct patterns here: 1. States with low vax rates getting slammed, having to ration hospital beds 2. States with high vax rates rising slowly with lots of hospital capacity And the most interesting part?

Widening gap in cases vs deaths! High vax states: 50% fewer cases per capita But 80% fewer deaths! Vaccines shine in preventing deaths So if you're worried about this fall More testing, masks will help But getting more folks vaccinated still key to avoiding bad surge End

#TrustTheFacts #GetTheVax
#TrustTheFacts #GetTheVax


The Guardian: "Femicides in the US: the silent epidemic few dare to name"

"The last week of July, as Gabby Petito and her fiance, Brian Laundrie, posted Instagram photos of themselves hiking barefoot in Utah’s Canyonlands national park, bronzed skin matching apricot-colored rocks, the body of Jerri Winters was discovered in Clinton Township, Michigan.

Her boyfriend, Matthew Lewinski, immediately admitted to the police he strangled her last December, keeping her mutilated body in the basement of the home they shared for months.

The same week, down in Starkville, Mississippi, William Chisholm was convicted of capital murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend Dr Shauna Witt. One month following her breaking up with him, Chisholm stormed the Walmart eye clinic where Witt worked as an optometrist and shot her dead.

Over in Baltimore, Maryland, Gomezgeka Chisala was that same week being held without bail after confessing to the killing of his ex-girlfriend Shaunya Green, a life-loving nurse and mother of two who once traveled to Africa to walk among elephants. Earlier in the month, Chisala had driven to Green’s home with a gun, entered into an argument with her and shot her dead."
Continue reading the article online. (Subscription maybe required)

A woman with a red hand painted on her face, which calls attention to the high rates of Indigenous women who are murdered or missing. Photograph: Kevin Mohatt/Reuters
A woman with a red hand painted on her face, which calls attention to the high rates of Indigenous women who are murdered or missing. Photograph: Kevin Mohatt/Reuters

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Franklin, MA: School Committee Meeting - Sep 28, 2021

School Committee Meeting

Municipal Building - Council Chambers (Virtual Link in Agenda)

Call to Order 
Pledge of Allegiance 
Moment of Silence
I. Routine Business
A. Review of Agenda
B. Citizen’s Comments
In the spirit of open communication, “the Committee will hold a public participation segment (also called Citizen’s Comments) about matters not related to an agenda item at the beginning of each regular School Committee meeting. The Committee will listen to, but not respond to any comment made…. A Committee member may add an agenda item to a future meeting as a result of a citizen comment…. The Committee will hear public comments related to an agenda item when the Chair deems appropriate during the Committee meeting. Topics for discussion during the meeting must be limited to those items listed on the Committee meeting agenda for that evening…. ” - from Policy BEDH

C. FHS Student Representative Comments
D. Superintendent’s Report
II. Guests/Presentations
A. Introduce Lily Rivera, Town & School Marketing/Communications Specialist
B. Digital Learning Plan – Alison Finley, Kate Merten, Chris Penza, Marianne Zogby and John Leighton
III. Discussion/Action Items
A. Franklin TV Board Appointment
I recommend the appointment of Rose Turco to the Franklin TV Board of Directors.
B. MASC Delegate
I recommend the Committee appoint Denise Spencer to serve as the Committee's delegate to the annual MASC Annual Meeting of Delegates as discussed.
C. Policy - Waiving 1st reading
I recommend waiving the First Reading of Policy EBCFA Face Coverings as discussed.
D. Policy Adoption
I recommend adopting policy EBCFA - Face Coverings as discussed.
IV. Discussion Only Items 
A. MASC Resolutions
B. ESSER III Funding Plan
C. Back to School Status Update – September 24, 2021

V. Information Matters
A. School Committee Sub-Committee Reports (e.g. Ad Hoc Supt. Evaluation, Budget, Community Relations/Public Schools Advocacy, Policy, Transportation)
B. School Committee Liaison Reports (e.g. Joint PCC, Substance Abuse Task Force, School Wellness Advisory Council)

VI. New Business
A. To discuss any future agenda items

VII. Consent Agenda
A. Approval of Minutes
I recommend approval of the September 14, 2021 School Committee minutes as detailed.
B. New FHS Club Approval
I recommend approval of the new FHS Clubs: Book Club, Hiking Club and Board and Games Club as detailed.

VIII. Payment of Bills Dr. Bergen
IX. Payroll Atty. Pond-Pfeffer

X. Adjournment
Franklin, MA: School Committee Meeting - Sep 28, 2021
Franklin, MA: School Committee Meeting - Sep 28, 2021

LGBTQ+ Pizza and Boardgames Meetup to be Held at Horace Mann Square - Oct 9

LGBTQ+ Pizza and Board games Meetup to be Held at Horace Mann Square outside Piezoni
The "Non-Scene" Gay Friends of Greater Boston, a social group, will be hosting a pizza and board games meetup for the LGBTQ+ community right here in Franklin! The free event will be held at Horace Mann Square outside Piezoni on October 9th, 2021, at noon. Board games will be provided, but attendees can also bring their own. Attendees are also encouraged to support local downtown dining establishments and eat with us outdoors.

The "Non-Scene" Gay Friends of Greater Boston was established in 2010 to provide an alternative to the traditional LGBTQ+ nightlife. "I've found it very difficult to meet other LGBTQ+ people in Franklin, outside of commonly used dating apps" explained meetup organizer and Franklin resident Maxwell Morrongiello. The meetup is now one of the world's largest LGBTQ+ meetup groups with almost 8000 members.

Town Councilor and ally Cobi Frongillo applauded the upcoming event explaining, "only a few years ago, it was commonplace to see Franklin students wait until college to come out because they weren't sure they'd be supported in town. To now be hosting meet-ups for our LGBTQ+ neighbors is a fantastic step forward in supporting all community members."

Attendees are asked to be fully vaccinated and wear masks indoors, with masks being optional outdoors. "During these crazy times, we want to provide opportunities for people to socialize, while also ensuring people can remain safe," explained Morrongiello.

 "I have had wonderful experiences connecting with the LGBTQ+ community in the Boston area through this meetup, had fun doing a wide range of activities together, and not worry about fitting in" expressed longtime meetup member and event attendee Matthew Shibin. "The organizers do a fantastic job and are always open to feedback and suggestions about new activity ideas."

Attendees are required to create an account to join the meetup group, and rsvp at:

Non-tax-deductible contributions to support our events can be made at:

The "Non-Scene" Gay Friends of Greater Boston is registered doing business as "Non-Scene Boston"

Meet MC the owner of Timeless Crossfit & Fitness

After being in the corporate business world for 17 years, MC left to pursue her passion for fitness. She is a certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor and nutrition coach. Her fitness career in Franklin eventually landed her a great opportunity to own and operate her own gym.

Timeless Crossfit & Fitness is a welcoming and approachable way to begin or continue your wellness journey. You’ll immediately feel like Timeless is your second home. A place to escape the rat race and focus on building your health. MC is passionate about breaking down the “stigma” of Crossfit and making it a workout for everyone.

Crossfit classes run all throughout the day! If you’re new to Crossfit you can sign-up for the On-Ramp program which is 3x 1 hour sessions that teach you about crossfit standards, 1-1 personal assessment and all the foundational movements.

I want to emphasize that Timeless is more than just Crossfit. There is a wide variety of classes:
- strength & burn
- Step class
- strength & conditioning
- Shred & tone
- Woman’s boxing (I love boxing, helped me get into the best shape of my life!)
- Cycling
- Kettlebell
- Barre
- Yoga

There is also a small group training class for those with disabilities and a youth strength and conditioning class (ages 11-17).

There is childcare which is an amazing service for parents trying to balance their workouts/family life.

Lastly, Timeless Crossfit & Fitness takes COVID and safety very seriously. Lots of cleaning! If this is a concern preventing you from working out, talk to the staff to learn more! Everyone has a different comfort level so I just encourage talking to them directly about this!

(Photography credit đŸ“¸: @ryanosbornephotography)

#localfranklin #franklinma #franklinmassachusetts #franklinmass #medwayma

copy of @ryanosbornephotography photo posted to Instagram
copy of @ryanosbornephotography photo posted to Instagram

FHS Panther Hockey says "Thank you"

"Thank you to our amazing community for helping make the FHS Bottle & Can Drive and Franklin Food Pantry Drive a huge success. Looking forward to seeing you all at Harvest Festival!

@FHSSports @PanthersJVPuck @ToFranklinMa @FranklinRec @FYHockey" 

Shared from Twitter:

some of the collection by the FHS Panthers Boys Hockey team
some of the collection by the FHS Panthers Boys Hockey team

Franklin (MA) Police: Consider this lockup routine before you go to bed

A good reminder from the Franklin Police Department:

Franklin (MA) Police: Consider this lockup routine before you go to bed
Franklin (MA) Police: Consider this lockup routine before you go to bed

And a good reason to use this routine every day:

Not to sound like a broken record but over the last 2 weeks the department has taken 4 reports of stolen cars from neighborhoods overnight. Each of these incidents involved cars being left unlocked with keys left inside them. Cars were stolen from Southgate Road, A Street, Mary Anne Drive, and Mary Jane Road.  
All 4 of these cars have been recovered and are being processed by Franklin Detectives. These cars are being found abandoned or unoccupied in Framingham and Providence. Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to these crimes. Never leave your keys unlocked in your cars overnight."

Lifeline Awareness Week


"Living alone can be isolating, especially over the past year when socializing has been a health risk due to COVID-19. That is why the Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC) wants you to know, no matter your income, there are ways for you to have a home phone, cell phone, and internet plan. Since 1985, the Lifeline Program, a service administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company as part of the Universal Service Fund, has kept Americans connected and safe by providing low cost and no cost phone service options for eligible low-income consumers.

To commemorate the availability of this government service, the DTC and its partners­—the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA)—are participating in Lifeline Awareness Week from September 20-24, 2021. Through this awareness week, these groups hope to educate the public about this life saving prevention program."

In the revised and "preliminary final" Housing Production Plan almost 12% of Franklin householders live alone, and 7.1% of those are over 65 years old.
Lifeline Awareness Week
Lifeline Awareness Week

If you only do one thing with your privacy settings ...

"There’s probably a little bit of Google in every part of your life. The company hosts a sprawling network of tools and apps we use for everything — from school assignments and work emails, to watching how-to videos and making calls. The good news is that Google has tried to collect its most important privacy settings into one place, which means you can protect your data in Gmail and Google-owned YouTube at the same time.

Google offers a “Privacy Checkup” to get through settings quickly, but defaults to more mild options than we’ve listed below. There are some trade-offs when you limit Google’s data collection, according to the company. Google services that give recommendations might not be as helpful, and any ads you see will be less accurately targeted.

These privacy setting recommendations are based on your Google Account settings on the Web. You can also access them through individual Google apps or your settings on an Android phone by going to Settings → Google (or Google Services)."
Continue reading the article online. (Subscription maybe required)

If you only do one thing with your privacy settings ...
If you only do one thing with your privacy settings ...

"The region is one of many across the globe being struck by severe drought."

"Sergio Koci’s sunflower farm in the lowlands of northern Argentina has survived decades of political upheaval, runaway inflation and the coronavirus outbreak. But as a series of historic droughts deadens vast expanses of South America, he fears a worsening water crisis could do what other calamities couldn’t: Bust his third-generation agribusiness.

“When you have one bad year, you can face it,” Koci said. Some of his 20,000 acres rest near the mighty ParanĂ¡ River, where water levels have reached lows not seen since 1944. On the back of two years of drought-related crop losses, he said, the continuing dryness is now set to reduce his sunflower yields this year by 65 percent.

“When you have three bad years, you don’t know if there will even be another year,” he said.

From the frigid peaks of Patagonia to the tropical wetlands of Brazil, worsening droughts this year are slamming farmers, shutting down ski slopes, upending transit and spiking prices for everything from coffee to electricity."
Continue reading the article online. (Subscription maybe required)
Meanwhile, on the home front:
"Breaking news in the weather department this morning... We have now moved into first place for the wettest July through September. #EnoughIsEnough"

We have now moved into first place for the wettest July through September
We have now moved into first place for the wettest July through September