Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Election Day Thoughts

When I woke up this morning Fall River was covered in a fog, which I imagine some will find a pretty fitting  analogy. The dust has settled and for the most part there has been little change in Fall River's political makeup.

Shockingly the school committee had no turnovers. It's the same makeup as before with the exception of Paul Hart filling the seat vacated by Marilyn Rodrigues. It's tough to believe with the all the issues in the school department that voters are happy with the status quo. We have had budget disasters, the threat of DESE takeover, controversy over pay raises and THIS was the quietest race of all! Does this vote represent satisfaction with the performance of the school committee and the school department? If so how do you explain Joe Martins being the top vote getter? Joe is very much not a supporter of the superintendent so it seems odd that if Joe is #1, that some other candidates clearly looking for change didn't make the cut. However, I liked Paul Hart when he was on the City Council and think he'll be a positive addition to the School Committee.

Of course the City Council is the place that had the most change and the most surprises. The biggest change is the addition of 3 new city councilors! Dan Rego, Mike Miozza, and Dave Dennis will certainly add a new dynamic to the council especially considering that Leo Pelletier will be one of those not returning. I've already discussed the Leo dynamics in another post but last night the voters decided not to return Leo to the council. It wasn't even close he was several hundred votes from even being close to the 9th place. It's interesting that Leo lost his seat despite finishing in 9th place in the preliminary ahead of Pat Casey, who this time around managed to leap frog over him and take the 9th place spot for herself. I thought Leo could be in real trouble but couldn't quite figure out how people would feel about the indictment, the Herald News editorial and the rest, but I was sure Pat Casey was done. And I know others I talked to felt the same way. But she is safe and Leo becomes the only incumbent not reelected. But that doesn't minimize the change on the council because the people who did make it were ahead of incumbents! Dan Rego took the number 2 spot, which honestly is startling. Mike Miozza finished 7th and Dave Dennis 8th, both ahead of Pat Casey. Just as shocking is Linda Pereira being the #1 vote getter. I don't want to imply she doesn't deserve it, because obviously more people voted for than any other councilor and so she deserves it, but I never got the impression that Linda was the most effective councilor over the last 2 years. In fact I was very much in agreement with the Herald endorsements of Ray Mitchell and Eric Poulin. I was reading this morning that Joe Camara and Ray Mitchell are both eyeing the City Council Presidency and I have to wonder if Linda might be eyeing that herself.

That brings us to the Mayor's race. What can I say? Well obviously there are a lot of people disgusted with outcome. There are a lot of people who felt that Will Flanagan was not the right choice, was not a good mayor and did not deserve reelection. There were more people who felt that the Mayor is hard working, passionate and intent on moving the city forward AND that a two year term is not enough time for a Mayor to do what he sets out to accomplish.  I imagine a lot of people will try to figure just what happened here. Was it ever close? Was it the message? Money? What? Cathy Ann Viveiros has run several times before and just can't seem to win. Is it the candidate? Cathy has always struck me as very intelligent and very capable, but I've had more than a few people mention her "baggage" to me. Regardless Flanagan's victory was decisive. I have not been the biggest fan of the Mayor and I can only hope he is serious about trying bring the city together because that has been a big flaw in his first term. The mayor has set his own time line, by saying two years isn't enough he is implying that we should see real change and real results in these next two. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

It's Election Day!

It's Election Day! Go out and vote and be heard!

I have to say, despite a lackluster election season today has turned out to be a pretty exciting Election Day! Who will be Mayor? What new faces will be on the council? Who will be elected to the school committee? What incumbents will bounce back and hold on to their seats? Or will those incumbents make way for new faces?

I knew, as I think most everyone did, that this year would Flanagan versus Viveiros again. I truly felt that if that was the match up come election day that Will would win easily. I felt that way through most of the summer.But over the last month or so there has been an energy around this race. Suddenly it seems that Cathy could really beat Flanagan, despite his "Shock and Awe" campaign strategy! Now I'm not saying she's going to win. I'm saying I wouldn't put money on HIM winning. I'm saying if you are a Cathy supporter GO OUT AND VOTE because your candidate IS FIRMLY in the RACE. The opposite is true, if you're a Flanagan supporter GET OUT THERE because YOUR CANDIDATE needs your vote. DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED!! It's exciting when the race is close and hopefully it means a better than expected turnout.

The council race also has some interest there are open seats could candidates to fill them that NEED your support. There are long time incumbents on the verge of being voted out. It's up to YOU to decide if they stay or if they go! There is an open seat on the school committee and really maybe a few other seats that need to be switched out. Do you believe in our school committee? If so stay home or vote the status quo. If you don't go out there and vote to change it.

For the past 5 years all I have heard is "we need change".."we need change".."we need change". Fall River voters are starting to sound like a beggar on a street corner. THIS election season I see more opportunity for change than ever before. It will be interesting to see who is in, and who is out, when the votes are counted.

Where in the world is Leo Pelletier?

Leading up to today I've had the usual conversations. "Who will win mayor?" "Who will be the top vote getter for the council?" "How do you think so-and-so will do?" Most of these questions I have firm opinions on. Even if I see something close I can rationalize how things may go if this happens or that happens. The one question I have been asked that I really have no certainty for is how do I think Leo will do. 

How will Leo do? I thought his 9th place finish in the preliminary could spell trouble for him but I also realized it could mobilize his supporters come November. Then the indictment came along and I thought does this hurt him? It should! It would other councilors. Or does this help him? Do people who like Leo and support Leo now come out and vote for Leo because they see him as a victim? I don't know. I have talked to some who feel this isn't new Leo has gotten into this kind of trouble before and should have known enough to stay clear. However these people are not the ones who usually support Leo. I think the people who usually support Leo feel he's one of them, an average Fall River guy, who just happens to represent them in the city council. He's the guy who gets pot holes fixed, trash picked up, and answers their calls and gets them answers to their questions. How do those people feel? 

Let's see... Leo had a 9th place finish, he was just indicted, and the Herald News wrote an editorial saying it was time from him to step down. That all sounds ominously bad on election day. On the other hand Leo just had an event with from what I hear, a very large turnout. 

People keep asking me where do I think Leo will finish and I have to say I really don't know!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Bad signs for the local paper?

We've been hearing for a while that print journalism is becoming extinct. Newspapers seems to be struggling to find new identities in a world where people are reading their news on their smart phone and not at the breakfast table. I saw a story the other day that was a subtle reminder of this, that by itself would mean little if not for another story I saw last night on the Herald News. 

The first story was on WPRI's website. (That alone is an indicator of how tricky the media world now is, when a TV station is also providing print news content online!). An post there stated that the Projo's circulation is down. What struck me is that the article also stated the circulation figures from the Herald News and the Standard-Times.

I was a bit surprised that the Standard-Times sold that much better than the Herald. I was also surprised that considering the surrounding area how low those totals seemed, at least to me. 

Like I said, I found it interesting but by itself I didn't mean much until I saw an article in the Herald stating that they would be moving their printing operations to a regional location along with several other papers. I'm pretty sure that only recently the Taunton Gazette moved it's printing to Fall River and now both, along with the Projo and one of the Boston papers are moving to a regional location. Well despite the best spin this has nothing to do with advantages in technology it is a cost savings measure plain and simple and it's happening all over the country. 

It's a sad thing to see local papers struggling to remain relevant because the digital world doesn't cover the types of stories that have made local papers part of our community and a fixture in our homes for decades. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

“A message from Mayor Flanagan”

Apparently there has been an email circulating around with the subject line stating to be 'A message from Mayor Flanagan' but wasn't sent out by him or his campaign and features some videos that don't really show the Mayor in the best of lights.

Sadly, nobody thought to send this email to me….

Mayor Flanagan is upset, understandably that someone is sending out an email that at best is misleading and at worst is intentionally meant to look like it came from the Mayor or his campaign.  Alright so the Mayor issued a press release and got himself in the Herald News to set the record straight. Sounds good right? Except that Mayor isn't just setting the record straight and he isn't just denouncing the email he is flat out accusing his opponent of sending it!

He is quoted as saying "it's the modus operandi" established by the Viveiros campaign, and that Cathy "represents all the dirty tricks of the past" He says she should acknowledge her role in it or condemn it.

Unless his press release to the paper offered more detail than what the paper quotes (and it doesn't appear to be posted on his campaign website) how in the world can he come out and accuse Viveiros or her campaign of sending out this email? Without proof isn't what he is doing just as damning, maybe even more so than what he is accusing her of doing? After all IF she was responsible then the worst you can say is that she sent out emails with a misleading subject line. On the other hand if he is wrong he is basically engaging in character assassination!

I also have to ask why would Cathy Ann Viveiros need to send out emails under some misleading context. One of the videos highlights the Mayor's possible interest in running for U.S. Senate and another a report on Flanagan's use of state funds to support private development. Both topics are legitimate campaign points so if her campaign wanted to get this out there why not just send it from the campaign where it would likely get the same amount of notice? Of course I can't say she didn't send it but I can't really see any logical reason why she would.

And other than trying to make Viveiros look bad I can't figure out why the Mayor would want to bring attention to this. He says he has no concern about the videos themselves just the misleading manner it was put out there. He HAS to be telling the truth because he has pretty much guaranteed everyone under the sun is going to want to watch those videos now! Even if you're not worried I can't see why you would help promote anything that negatively reflects on you.

Fifth Time’s a Charm?

As we entered our latest election season there were two things of which I was certain, that Cathy Ann Viveiros would once again make a run for mayor, and that Will Flanagan would win reelection. Well obviously the first has held absolutely true but the second? I'm not so sure.

Despite my efforts to be unbiased, open-minded and fair, I do not like Will Flanagan. I think he mishandled the entire casino proposal and more than just mishandling it, it was a flat out mistake. I think his wanting to micromanage his own board appointees shows a lack of leadership. His idea of 'transparent government' is a joke. I think his 81 million dollar school budget proposal absurd. I can't decide if threatening layoffs to Government Center workers if they didn't take a pay cut only to suddenly find the money is a sign of incompetence or a deceit. And still I have thought he would be reelected. First, not everyone agrees with MY opinion on the above, and secondly there are things that he has accomplished, getting up to date with the DOR, keeping the Durfee Textile building from becoming 'misdeveloped', supporting and building strong ties with neighborhood associations, to name a few.

My opinion all along has been the Mayor has made several mistakes but no challenger had come forth who was strong enough to take advantage of them. Even recently I have thought that Cathy Ann just wasn't getting enough traction to beat the Mayor and I STILL think she needs to cut back on the intellectual reasoned approach and let fly with a little passion! However I'm hearing from people who are not happy with the Mayor. Some didn't support him before but some did and they are not going to support him this time around. I'm watching the debates where I think Cathy has always done a better job than Will Flanagan. And now I'm looking at the Herald News endorsing Cathy Ann Viveiros for mayor!

I'm honestly surprised, happily so, at the momentum building behind her. Is it enough to win? We'll find out Election Day!

I know it’s been awhile…

I know it's been awhile since I've blogged anything new. Somehow October has come and gone and I haven't found the time or the energy to comment on a single thing. It seems the ol' blog is just sitting around gathering dust. ..

It's not that I don't have anything to say or have run out of opinion to share. A big part is life just catching up with me. The year has been eventful, some good, some bad. The good has taken my attention away from blogging. The bad has sapped my interest and motivation to blog. There are other factors. It seems that blogging in general has just STOPPED. It's not that I'm not blogging, it seems NOBODY is. That's depressing because I miss the opinion and creative thought that was shared. Part of this is because of the local paper's comment section makes it easy for everyone to put in their 2 cents. I would say that is a good thing, but honestly I don't think the comment section nurtures thought out opinions as much as it does attacking commentary. It's more arguing than debate and the paper does a poor job of moderating it. Then too there is facebook, which honestly I have thought about trying to build a presence on but a lack of motivation to blog has also meant a lack of motivation to really give that much attention. Then there is also the FOCUS of this blog, which has always been Fall River. Lately, Fall River seems to be in a malaise. I don't see exciting things happening. I don't see the city moving forward. A few years ago it seemed to me the city was rising from the ashes, but now it seems like it's too tired to make the effort.

I know the feeling…

Well, I'm going to try to blow off the dust and brush off the cobwebs and get some new content on here. After all I did pay for the domain name I may as well use it. At this point I'm not sure how many people are stopping by and how many people are reading but if you still are, I thank you, and if you haven't been hopefully some new content will bring you back.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Make Up Missed Time?

Apparently parents at the Talbot Middle School are not happy about the way the school department handled a recent shutdown. The school department shut down the school to conduct air quality tests after learning some of the caulking used in the building contained PCB's.

Now I understand parents being irked by the last minute notice and by the inconvenience of it all. I don't know how long the school department has known about the caulking and if it could have been done before the school year. I would have to say I hope not because that would mean they decided to let kids attend school knowing of a potential risk, which I think would be a MUCH bigger issue. So I am going to assume that the PCB's came to light after the school opened for the year and the decision was made to be safe and not sorry. And the good news is the tests have come back and the PCB levels are well below any levels of concern. What I don't understand is the feelings of some parents quoted in the Herald News who don't believe their kids should have to make up the lost time.

Are you kidding me?!

These parents think the closing was badly handled, it's not the kids fault and they shouldn't have to make up the time.

In a city where the state school department has one hand on the "takeover" button, where drop out rates are still too high and MCAS scores are still too low their parents feel that their kids should have LESS school?

When it comes to education in this city our kids already have two strikes against them. And it's not because we have lousy teachers. (Because I don't believe that.), It's not because we have poor leadership. (Although I believe there is certainly room for improvement.) It's because we're a poor community with all the social economic problems that come from that and because we can't providing more funding to combat some of these issues.

Let me tell you something, if it were up to me I would strongly consider making EVERY school in this city an expanded day learning school, because our kids need more education not less. And parents need to stress the importance of education. When a parent basically compares education to some burden like paying the rent it sends the wrong message.

"Gee the heating system in my apartment let go and I had to move out for a week, so I shouldn't have to pay rent for that week."

"Gee they closed school for a week to make sure it was SAFE, my kid should have to make that up!"

Education is something that is NEEDED, it's essential and we shouldn't be fighting for less of it, we should be making sure our kids get everything they can from it.

"Gee the stove was broke and the appliance guy didn't fix it until 2PM.. so Johnny shouldn't have to eat lunch."

Obviously most parents would say hey we're back in business let's get some lunch together! If I were a Talbot parent I would be fighting to make sure the school department didn't throw 5 lousy half days on to the end of the year. Personally I would probably be fighting for some Saturday classes. Five Saturdays in school NOW seems better than a full week in June.

I'll bet no matter how they go about making up these days a lot of parents will just keep their kids home. And in the end, it's not the 5 absences that will have a negative effect on a child's education. It's the attitude behind them.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Mayoral Race

If I had my way the primary election would result in Cathy Ann Viveiros and Stefani Koorey making it through to the general election. I don't think, however that this will be the likely outcome. Mostly, because I imagine Mayor Flanagan will safely be one of the top two vote getters. Not that I think he should be, more because of the advantages of being the incumbent. The Mayor still retains a core of support and if nothing else has made efforts reaching out to neighborhood associations that should serve him in good steed come election day.

Of course two years ago I would have bet the outcome was going to be Mayor Correia and Cathy Ann Viveiros facing off in the general election. It just goes to show you that sometimes the unexpected happens and "conventional wisdom" is just flat out wrong.

The thing that amazes me the most about the current race is that nobody has really seperated themselves from the pack. I've watched to forum at White's and listened to the WSAR forum and watched the Richard Urban Show, and never once thought someone had clearly run away with it.

Obviously the disadvantage to being an incumbent is you have a record to defend and for the most part Will Flanagan has managed (at least in these forums) do a passable job at that. Now don't get me wrong I'm not saying he's done a great job at it, just that he's kept his opponents from scoring any direct hits. Now those who really pay attention will say that I'm wrong that he evaded, or soft shoed his way through and I would agree with that. But it's a soundbite world and the average voter will pick up on the buzzwords, 'jobs' 'safety' etc. and never focus on the lack of substance in those responses. But other than doing that I don't feel that he has inspired people with his vision or leadership. I don't walk away blown over by his passion (although I did see glimpses once or twice), instead much like two years ago I walk away mostly unimpressed by Will Flanagan.

There seem to be 3 great certainties in life, death, taxes and Cathy Ann Viveiros will run for mayor. I knew when she lost 2 years ago that she would be his challenger in this race, and so did everyone I talked to. Fortunately the Mayor has made plenty of mistakes for Cathy to seize onto but for some reason her passion doesn't come through, her leadership fails to inspire. I almost wish someone would piss her off before these things so she would go out fiery and worked up. I think back to her debate against candidate Will Flanagan, and that night she did seem to be energized, passionate, ready to win. Sadly I think by then too many people had already made up their mind. Then like now the thing that impresses me about Cathy is her ability to give an answer, share a vision and give specifics and details that she has really done her homework, thought long and hard about the subject and has a knowledge that her opponents often seem to lack.

Stefani Koorey is, too me, the most interesting candidate if for no other reason than because I don't think people know what to make of her. Maverick? Vested outsider? Critic? Advocate? Is she serious? Is she nuts? Right from the start I have felt that she faced an uphill battle to wage a successful campaign. She doesn't have the name recognition or background that we look for from our political candidates. But Stefani is certainly is very intelligent woman who can speak knowledgeably on many of the issues that face Fall River today. She is perhaps the current administration's biggest critic and certainly has become a watchdog over local government. She has been very involved, attending countless city meetings. She is also a dedicated advocate in many causes. She has an "outsider's perspective" which basically means she sees the positive and isn't held back by years of self-doubt about the city's future. It's easy for some to dismiss a candidate who is critical of the current administration, but mostly unknown before running and has no previous experience in government. But two years ago we elected that person as Mayor of Fall River. Could we do it again?

I get the biggest kick out of Carolyn Burton. I don't mean that at all in a dismissive way. Nobody does a better job of taking on the "citizen politician" mantle. She tells us, she is just one of us an average Fall River citizen who is concerned about the city and she's 100% believable (at least to me). She lacks polish, she lacks specifics yet she has such terrific passion, such charisma and such and honest belief in common sense that you wonder if she could overcome her own shortcomings and actually move the city forward.

I have to admit I just don't get Richard M. Renzi. With his suits, stylish glasses and perfectly coiffed hair I'm ready to award him best dressed candidate. However with his almost monotone voice he comes across to me as a cross between Alec Baldwin and a televangelist. Neither would I want for mayor. He has big ideas some of them good, but no specifics on how he thinks he could implement them. There is no way this guy could be elected mayor and implement what he wants. Government doesn't work that way. He also projects a supreme confidence in his ideas and ability to lead, which I'm not sure is the right tact for someone who hasn't even lived in the city a full 6 months yet.

With election day quickly coming upon us I'm still not sure anyone has really stepped up and really convinced us why they should be mayor. Will Flanagan hasn't really defended his record or promoted his accomplishments and while others have been quick to point to his faults they haven't always shown how they will do things differently or accomplish more than he been able to.

Who are you leaning toward on election day?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"You know what they should do?"

Mike Moran's latest column in the Herald takes a somewhat critical somewhat complimentary look at the Green Futures proposal for the former Hess LNG site. He gives them credit for suggesting a plan for the Weavers Cove site, although calling it naive. At the same time he seems to be saying that those who say "you know what they should do" are basically looking to waste your time with their ideas that they can't possibly implement. Politicians and government can really only play a supportive role and it's private business that makes the difference. I take a different point of view on this.

Government has to play more than a "supportive" role in development. If we want a vibrant downtown, then it's up to local government to work to make that happen. That means marketing, changing zoning, looking for ways to finance redevelopment, courting businesses that we feel fit that vision. You can't sit back and wait for private business to say "you know what they should do" and then hopefully go and do it. The same principal applies to the waterfront. Citizens, activist groups, idealistic politicians, etc. who share there ideas aren't living out some pipe-dream they are hoping to inspire someone who can implement a vision. In the case of Green Futures vision for the LNG site, obviously they are building on the seeds of a vibrant recreational and commercial waterfront and pointing out that it should be included in the "vision" we have for the rest of the waterfront.

Once upon a time someone said, "you know what they should do?" and then said we should tear down the elevated Rt. 79 and now we're moving closer to that reality. More recently someone said "you know what they should do?" and then said we should paint the Braga a new color to brighten up the skyline. Certainly painting the bridge isn't going to have the same impact as getting rid of the elevated highway, but the point is neither change would have happened if someone didn't first say "you know what they should do?"

A blue Braga isn't going to change the future of Fall River but removing that elevated roadway will. A boulevard along the waterfront is going to open up land and development possibilities that haven't existed before. Someone's pipe-dream is becoming a reality. Weavers Cove has to be one of the most important parcels of land in the city. It's in a prime location. It has great highway access can be connected to rail and proposed bike paths. It would be a shame to see the city not try to have a hand in developing that site in ways that fit with our vision of the future of our waterfront. What's for worse than saying "you know what they should do?" is saying "you know what they should have done?"

Benefit to the Community

This past Sunday the Herald News ran an article asking city council candidates to share their thoughts about what to do with the surplus of former school buildings. The candidates had a choice of 3 options:

1.    The highest bid

2.    Benefit to the Community

3.    Potential for future tax revenues.

I know what my answer would have been. I've stated many times that the most important consideration when looking at options for these buildings is finding the best fit for the neighborhood and the city. It's a somewhat pleasant surprise to find that 9 respondents, including four current city councilors share that basic viewpoint.

Two councilors, Mitchell and Poulin use the example of the former police station to highlight the pitfalls of going after the highest bid and it's an example I myself have cited constantly. The city bypassed the option of taking a smaller bid from an experienced developer with a great track record and instead ended up accepting a higher bid amount that has resulted in an eyesore that is now a safety hazard! The idea of getting your money upfront is appealing but it won't take long before the money is all spent and we'll be left with the consequences of our shortsightedness. The one candidate who answered that the highest bid is the way to go is Bob Boutin, an experienced realtor.  He brings up good points in his answer. He says we should get valid appraisals and that the city needs to be professional in the business of selling these schools. I would dare say the way the potential sale of the Belisle was handled looks like a comic fiasco that does nothing to make others want to even consider trying to submit a bid. He also points out that the present zoning could possibly hinder sales. Now I still say highest profit is wrong thinking, but these points are not contrary to the idea of benefiting the community. If we have a fair, accurate appraisal we know what the building is worth and parties submitting offers for less than the appraised value should have to justify their reasoning. If the Osborn Street School is worth $750,000 (let's say), and a party bids $100,000 but offers a plan to restore the structure and cites those costs as the reason for the low bid, well perhaps that is enough reason to accept a low bid. If medical offices wanted to locate there and in doing so would create 35 new jobs THAT might be a reason why you would accept a lower bid. As long the intended use was complimentary to the neighborhood and the city and as long as we had assurances (contractually) that a low bidder could not flip the property for a higher profit and that they would do the required work within a set timeframe the bid amount should be secondary.

Only one candidate answered "potential for future tax revenues". It's an interesting answer and one I'm not sure how to calculate. Of course it would exclude selling these buildings to any non-profit organization and it exchanges what is best for the neighborhood for maximizing profits, which I flat out disagree with. I think I read that Meditech pays somewhere between $400,000 to $500,000 in taxes to the city, but their building sits on 17 acres and has 120,000 square-feet of space. None of the former schools is comparable to that. Taking a look at the property record for the Belisle School shows an assessed value of $3,288,500 and if you applied the commercial property tax rate to that you would get just over $70,000. Well that sounds decent enough if you can find someone to buy the school and use the property as is and they don't get it re-assessed (because I think that assessment is probably too high) and they don't somehow get a TIF agreement for coming to Fall River. Chances are the Belisle is going to fall victim to the wrecking ball and become Belisle Commons or some other name for some cul-de-sac. (By the way keep your eyes open on this one to see what well connected developer manages to get a deal on the former school property.) The property is roughly 6 acres, so how many houses can we fit on it? I wouldn't doubt if you could squeeze 24 houses there which not including streets would mean about ¼ acre a house. That's actually pretty generous for Fall River! Well let's assume 24 houses all worth about $250,000 each that would give you a tax bill on each house of just over $2,500! Multiply $2,500 by 24 houses and you get a nice 60k in new taxes! Sounds good right? Well 24 homes probably mean 24 families. If each family had 2 kids that's 48 more kids in the school system. 48 more kids are enough for 2 classrooms! So it's reasonable to assume that so many new kids could mean the addition of at least one teacher in the school department. That's at least 45k a year (salary plus benefits). These kids would require materials, books, paper, etc. and there is a cost to that. These homes will require trash pickup, snow plowing, road salting, electricity for street lights what's the cost of all that? Suddenly you're not looking at 60k in new revenue and you're starting to wonder if you'll break even! So needless to say I have my doubts that we should be pinning our hopes on the greatest potential for future tax revenue.

What bothers me the most is the candidates that didn't answer. This is crunch time and hopefully voters are trying to make informed decisions. Most appalling is the 2 candidates for office that currently SIT ON the real estate committee, including the chair Pat Casey!  (Committee members Poulin and Kilby did submit answers.) Certainly voters might be interested to know the opinions of the members who currently sit on the committee, especially considering its dismal track record.