Monday, November 20, 2006

Three Hats in the Ring

City Councillor Al Alves lost his designation as the only 'declared' candidate for mayor this weekend.

City Councillor Brad Kilby announced Friday evening of his intentions to run for the city's top spot in a story that was in Saturday's Herald News. On Sunday State Representative David Sullivan officially announced that he would be running to be Fall River's next mayor.

In an amusing aside, WSAR's Keri Rodrigues took Kilby to task on her blog for excluding WSAR from his official announcement. Whether or not this because she feels Kilby 'snubbed' the radio station or just because she's aggravated at being scooped isn't clear but I find her ire amusing because on Friday she 'scooped' the Herald News by 'officially' announcing on her blog Dave Sullivan's official announcement!

Kilby and Alves are both current members of the City Council. Kilby previously served on the School Committee. Before becoming State Representative Dave Sullivan also served on the Fall River City Council.

Anonymous Comments

Just wanted to mention that I've changed the settings of this blog to allow for anonymous comments. I've implemented this change to hopefully encourage more people to leave comments.

Careful research has shown that of the 6 people that actually read this blog, 2 did not have blogger accounts.

This change is for them.

Utility Affordability Problems Affecting Middle Class

(Chart courtesy of the Providence Journal)

An article in yesterday's Providence Journal (Registration Required) reports that the number of Rhode Islanders who have lost their utility service due to non-payment has jumped 12%. The biggest increase is in households that do not receive Federal Heat Assistance.

In other words, households that make too much money to qualify for heating assistance don't make enough to pay their heating bills and although the although the information is specific to the state of Rhode Island, it's not too hard to imagine that there are similar trends here in Massachusetts.

It's a sobering reality that I fully understand because I feel the pinch of rising costs. I know the feeling of frustration that comes with realizing that your paycheck just doesn't go as far as it did just a year or so before.

It's too easy to say 'tighten your belt', 'live within your means' and 'save for a rainy day'. What is the solution? How do we save ourselves? How do we save middle class?

Friday, November 17, 2006

'Finger in the Chili'

Phillip Daggett, the man who claimed he got sick after eating a taco laced with drugs apparently made a similar claim after eating at a Fall River McDonald's three years ago according to a story reported by the Standard Times.

The story which was extremely suspect to begin with would seem to have NO credibility now.

Mr. Daggett told the Standard Times that he didn't plan on suing Taco Bell, but Taco Bell made it clear that if the claim turned out to be"false" or "fraudulent", that they would seek prosecution "to the fullest extent of the law".

It looks like if Mr. Daggett made this story up he could end up suffering from more than the usual type of 'heartburn' associated with Taco Bell.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Homeless Vigil Tonight in Fall River

A Candle Light Vigil will be held today on the steps of St. Anne's Church to bring attention the plight of the homeless people in our community. The vigil starts at 6pm.

Homelessness is a perplexing issue.

Why do we focus on the 'the plight of the homeless' when the cold weather and the holidays approach? Do we feel when the weather is good, their not homeless their just camping? Am I the only one who feels it's a sad commentary to think that we suddenly care about our fellow man just because we feel festive and are drunk with the spirit of the season.

How bad is the homelessness in our area? I really wish I knew or that I could find some really good information to site but I can't. A few years go when I first heard about a 'homeless' issue in Fall River I didn't see it. That's not to say I didn't believe it, it is just something that what's smacking me right in the face.What I can say is that I notice more people now who I perceive to homeless than ever before.

It bothers me that more information isn't available. If this is really an issue in our city and in the area I want to know what's being done about it. If we have a significant homeless issue, how do we justify tearing down public housing? Why don't we have more homeless shelters?

I don't want to hear that the Mayor knows about the problem but chooses to minimize it or ignore it. I mean to a point this could be true but I am sick and tired of every one of the city's ills being placed on the Mayor's doorstep. City Hall is not going to solve all of our problems and we need to stop thinking that it should. Certainly City Hall should have a role but so should or citizens and our churches. In fact we shouldn't be looking at this as a Fall River issue at all because you simply can't have a homeless issue in Fall River without it having some sort of basis in Somerset, Swansea, Assonet, Westport, New Bedford, etc.

So, when people say well what has the Mayor and the city council done, I would ask what have we done as a region and is it enough?

The issue of homelessness isn't going to just go away while we wait for someone else to take care of it. Homelessness isn't just an issue that affects 'other' people. If you're living paycheck to paycheck, if you can't afford health insurance, if you have to choose between heat or food you are at risk of becoming homeless.

I hope tonight's vigil brings new attention the issue of homelessness in our area but I really hope that when the candles go out, we don't forget.

I am unable to link to the Herald News article covering tonight's vigil but want to include the following information.

Donations such as scarves, hats, gloves, underwear, socks and toiletries are welcome. Donations will also be accepted at the Alcoholism Council, 206 Winter Street, Salvation Army, 290 Bedford Street, and the First Step Inn, 177 North Main Street.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Man Gets Sick From Eating at Taco Bell!

Phillip Daggett says he suffered from numbness to the mouth and stomach cramps after eating at the Taco Bell on Mariano Bishop Blvd.

He says that after getting sick he noticed a white power in another taco that he had purchased and went to the hospital where he claims he tested positive for opiates, or according to another news source, possibly cocaine.

So the question is did someone drug his taco or is this another 'finger in the chili'?

I'm not going to make any assumptions but when it comes to getting a bite to eat I think I'm going to stick to what's in my fridge.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gubernatorial Debate at UMass Dartmouth

The candidates for Governor, Kerry Healy, Deval Patrick, Christy Mishos, and Grace Ross met for their final debate at UMass Dartmouth, a debate I was able to catch on 1480 WSAR.

I won't attempt to recap the debate, which was sponsored by the SouthCoast Alliance, but the questions focused on the needs and concerns of the SouthCoast and really there were few, if any surprises. All four candidates said they supported commuter rail for the area, all opposed the Weaver's Cover LNG facility. They all supported a new Rt. 24 interchange, and pledged to work to improve over stringent fishing regulations.

In short, the candidates gushed about how they believe in and support the SouthCoast. For an area that has long considered itself ignored by the powers that be on Beacon Hill the praise and promises were heady, but only time will tell if any of this becomes a reality.

It's easy to see why Deval Patrick is the front runner, his exudes polished confidence and optimism, but to be fair I thought Kerry Healy had a better understanding of the issues debated, Of all the candidates responses hers seemed the most realistic. Christy Mihos may have been the most entertaining, he joked with the other candidates and seemed to be the most personable, but through the lightheartedness he stressed that municipalities need to be properly funded so they can direct funds to the areas where they need it most. But it was Grace Ross who I think constantly had the most well thought out, articulate, and poignant answers of the forum. I don't believe all of her answers were realistic or practical and there were several I just flat out disagreed with, but overall I found myself impressed by Green-Rainbow party candidate.

So who won? Grace Ross had the least to lose and impressed me the most, but I think the real winner was the SouthCoast Alliance for putting together this forum and allowing us to hear these candidates and their views on some of regional issues that effect us the most.

Why Does Public Housing Fail?

When I was a child my grandmother lived in elderly housing, a whole complex of housing for senior citizens on limited incomes.

It may be stretching a point to compare a senior complex with a housing project like Heritage Heights or Sunset Hill but I think their basic function is the same. Just as housing for the elderly serves seniors with limited means, our housing projects are meant to serve or residents that our 'income challenged'.

I understand that there is a difference in demographics and the challenges they face. What I don't understand is why there is such a difference in environment.

But there is a drastic difference in the environment between the two. The complex that my grandmother lived in, even 20 years later, is still a nice, reasonably safe, pleasant place to live. That isn't the case with the our housing projects which are better known for crime and drugs than for their beauty or hospitality.

Why? What is it about public housing, or their clientele, that leads to such a break down in values, pride and respect?

I understand that there are people in public housing who come from tough backgrounds, but I don't understand the obstacles that keep them from bettering themselves.

We need to figure out how to make public housing work because public housing is supposed to be a 'leg up' for people who need it, not a corral for our poor and the need for it is not going to go away. Why do our housing projects fail?

I don't think I have the 'readership' to make this more than a rhetorical question but I welcome comments.