Opinions and Editorials

High-Performance Computing Center Planned for Holyoke

Written by Webmaster   
Saturday, 24 October 2009 18:13

Hey, Westboronians and Westborough High School -- have you heard about the High Performance Computing Center (HPCC) planned for Holyoke?

"The Holyoke HPC Center will enable the region’s internationally recognized academic institutions to establish statewide collaborative research programs, plus collaborations among local community and technical schools and high schools."

Check out this article about the High-performance computing center planned for Holyoke. [article also reproduced below - webmaster]

Any chance the tech department in our high school can somehow connect with what looks to be a major state-wide technology initiative???

Comments welcome!

-- Webmaster Michael

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Last Updated on Saturday, 24 October 2009 18:33
Read more: High-Performance Computing Center Planned for Holyoke

Where are Westborough taxes going?

Written by Len Mead   
Monday, 14 September 2009 21:42

By Len Mead

August 8, 2009

Seven years ago our property taxes were about 20% over the state average when I happily moved to Westborough. Now they are 60% higher – about $7,000 compared to the state average of about $4,100.

As some of you readers know, I left Newton then because liberals there seemed to think higher taxes were the solution to everything. They proposed the largest Prop 2 ½ tax over-ride in state history at that time -- $11 million forever -- to pay for exploding spending. As president of the Newton Taxpayers Association, we opposed the tax increase.

The tax over-ride battle pitted old against young, upper class against middle class, public unions against private workers and parents against everyone else. It was a nasty, unpleasant fight that tore the city apart. The tax hike won by 709 votes out of about 28,000 cast.

That same year in 2002, a Westborough Prop 2 ½ tax override was narrowly avoided only because Astra Zeneca unexpectedly expanded its production and inventory. Town spending increases were thus funded with Astra’s unanticipated tax revenues.

That left me free to stay out of politics and devote about three years to restoring Westborough’s 1720 Captain John Maynard house – a labor of love.

Here, however, the scary thing for the next 7 years was that our taxes rose relentlessly year by year without a Prop 2 ½ over-ride vote to focus us on the peril. And so for the last three years, you, Dear Reader, have had to put up with my columns pointing out the facts and the dangers of Westborough’s rising taxes. I have warned that if spending isn’t controlled to less than what Prop 2 ½ tax increases can fund, trends show our property tax bills may rise inexorably to double the state average in just another 10 years.

Many have agreed with my forewarnings that better spending control is critical to keeping Westborough affordable for everyone. Other readers have suggested that exploding tax growth is only what Westborough people want when they approve spending at Town meeting.

My judgment, however, is that Town Meeting has sadly just become a vehicle for public employees to pack the meeting and vote their own pay and benefit increases -- leaving the remaining 200-300 attendees to quibble about other important town affairs whose financial impact is less than 25% of our total spending.

Still others have suggested that people like me objecting to tax increases should just move out of Westborough. My answer to that is, Naaah – I’d rather stay. Where better to take a conservative stand than in one’s own community?

I’ll side with the (no-longer) silent majority of ‘Town Meeting’ citizens who have finally had enough of bloated, government spending and meddling and are demanding that their elected officials remember who votes for and pays taxes for government services.

Friends, higher taxes destroy jobs, destroy communities, and destroy families. Only by lowering taxes and controlling public spending does an economy grow and create private sector jobs. How depressing then that our state sales tax was just increased 25% -- in a recession!

Worse, there is a new state “local option” allowing local cities and towns like Westborough to pile on and add even higher taxes on hotels and restaurants. For communities choosing to raise meals and hotel taxes even more, this will be yet another job destroying action sure to chase people out of the town or the state in the current recession

According to the US Census, Massachusetts has grown less than 1% and actually lost population in 2 of the last 5 years from 2004 – 2008 while the country has grown over 10%. As a quick factoid, Texas has created more jobs last year with their low tax, pro-growth economy than all the other states put together.

So where are Westborough taxes going? Not down like they should, apparently, in this recession.

Soon we’ll have a town meeting where whoever attends may approve even more spending due to budget “shortfalls.” Town meeting attendees may also approve letting “the voters” decide to raise taxes at a ballot election over-riding Prop 2 ½ to pay for a proposed $30 million plus public safety complex. Yes, of course our police and fire departments need improved facilities. But is the only choice nothing -- or tax hike of $3,400 for the average residential Westborough taxpayer ($170 for the next 20 years)?

Folks, you know where I stand. But with such critical issues coming up – and the Bush tax cuts due to expire soon pushing our economy further into recession, where do you stand? Why not write this publication – pro or con – on whether you believe raising our taxes (to possibly 70% higher than the state average!) or controlling spending is in our best interests?

From experience, I can tell you that reducing spending growth will be much, much better than a tax override ballot fight.

Len Mead can be reached anytime at mead1720@msn.com

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 September 2009 11:33

My Questions for Town Manager Interviewees

Written by Webmaster   
Monday, 30 March 2009 15:50

 I didn't receive any questions from site readers, so I've put together a few of my own.  I hope they make it into the process.

  1. We hear a lot about "openness and transparency" in the media today, especially in regard to business and government.   In your recent past experience, have you either led or participated in such initiatives, and could you briefly share what your role was in the initiative, and what difference the initiative made?
  2. In this age of over-committed schedules and just "not enough time in the day", finding people to take time out their busy lives to participate in local government on committees and boards is quite a challenge.  One often sees the same names, over and over, of those willing to step forward.   Have you dealt with this in other towns, and do you have any particular views on how best to ensure a diverse and robust participation by citizens in our town government?
  3. Do you have examples you can share, please, on how you overcame resistance to change in your past position?  You will, after all, have pretty big shoes to fill here in Westborough, and no doubt there will be a good chunk of time needed to get to know the boards, department heads, and staff.   There's certainly the risk that you'll be thought of as either "the new gal or guy", "an outsider", or both; followed with that familiar refrain, "we've always done it this way".  How have you successfully dealt with resistance to change?
  4. One of our long-held policies regarding use of town facilities by the public, such as using rooms to hold meetings or to reserve an auditorium to conduct an event, is to _only_ accept such requests from recognized civic groups.  This locks out any ad-hoc citizens group or even a private concern who may wish to create something of benefit to town residents.  In what ways as Town Manager are you open to engaging with citizens to revisit and potentially change such administration policies?

These were e-mailed to Maryanne Bilodeau at 4:52 PM Monday, Mar 30th.


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What IS a Local Issues Forum? Why start one?

Written by Michael (admin)   
Thursday, 12 February 2009 21:14

What is a Local Issues Forum? Why start one in Westborough?

Simply put, a Local Issues Forum is an online public commons where any citizen, journalist, or elected official can:

  • post an idea
  • ask a question
  • make a public announcement
  • connect with one another
  • monitor public opinion
  • ask for public input
  • and where journalists can look for story ideas or identify sources for articles.

The goal of a Local Issues Forum is to give everyone a greater voice in local decisions and encourage more citizen participation in local public policy making. It also provides a forum for decision-makers to receive immediate feedback from the community on issues that must be decided or voted on.

One of the most important features of a Local Issues Forum is that it is citizen driven. Anyone can introduce a topic, concern or idea for discussion as long as it relates to an issue that impacts the quality of life in the local community. A Local Issues Forum empowers individual citizens to bring their ideas, suggestions and concerns to the forefront of public attention.

Please click "READ MORE..." to read the rest of this article.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 March 2009 13:13
Read more: What IS a Local Issues Forum? Why start one?

Let's create a real online issues forum for Westborough

Written by Michael Hyde   
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 12:30

Hello. Wouldn't it be great if we had an online Issues Forum for Westborough?

Well, guess what?! We have one in the works, and it's about to launch. You can start the registration process for the Westborough Issues Forum right now by entering your email address and clicking Register:

A million thanks to E-Democracy.Org for hosting the forum.

Please be sure to check out the charter.

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Last Updated on Friday, 08 January 2010 07:56

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