Wednesday, February 28, 2007

SouthCoast Photo of the Month

Here is February's SouthCoast Photo of the month!

This shot titled "Looking up at the Battleship" was by a friend of mine on his visit to Fall River's Battleship Cove.

To me this photo really conveys the enormousness and might one feels when seeing the Big Mamie up close.

Great shot Dave!

Are you an avid picture taker? Do you have a shot you're particularly proud of? Perhaps just a shot that you'd like to share? Submit it here for the SouthCoast Photo of the Month! Send submissions to

Friday, February 23, 2007

Keri Live From New York

Keri Rodrigues will be guesting on the Alan Colmes show tonight!

I'm sure Keri must be excited and I want to wish her well. Hopefully I'll be able to tune in.

For those of you, (and I'm thinking of perhaps a Rhode Island reader) who haven't been able to catch Keri on the radio, now is your chance!

It's fantastic to have someone from the community on the national stage! Way to go Keri! The last time Fall River had an aggressive gal make the national scene it really wasn't so good.

Anyway Keri Rodrigues LIVE from New York...Don't miss it!

Tonight ... Friday, February 23, 2007 ... Keri will be live from New York on the Alan Colmes show from 10pm - 1am. Tune in to 1480 WSAR

Where in the World is Keri Rodrigues?!

Yesterday I received an email that Keri Rodrigues blog may have been shut down.

Honestly I thought I someone was pulling my leg, I had read Keri's blog post about City Councilor and Mayoral candidate Brad Kilby the day before and had even caught some of her show, no I was sure I was the victim of a practical joke.

So I quickly went to log on to confirm my suspicion and found...nothing! The blog was gone and I was redirected to some ad site. Puzzled I wondered what happened.

It was about 3:40 so I clicked on the radio and tuned in 1480 WSAR figuring I would gain some insight. Instead I heard what was obviously a best of show and now I really was scratching my head.

I thought back to Wednesday's show, Keri had been talking about an email she received from the Friends of Brad Kilby, obviously some people in the Kilby campaign felt that Keri had been disrespectful, to Councilor Kilby and that her comments bordered on slander and libel. The email went on to indicate that similar comment by Keri in the future would have some sort of repercussion for both the radio station and her personally.

Now keep in mind I didn't hear the comments she made about Brad Kilby on Tuesday's show. I only had a vague idea about them from reading her blog and I knew that they had provoked a reaction from the Kilby campaign. I also have listened to Keri enough to know that sometimes she resorts to verbal assassination.

So here it is 3:50, Keri's blog is GONE, and I'm listening to canned Keri on the I'm thinking WOW they FIRED her. I'm a bit shocked but not 100% surprised, after all she really does provoke a reaction. I'm wondering just what did she say about Brad Kilby?! I contact another area SouthCoast blogger looking for some information. He too found out that her blog was down but didn't know any more than I did.

Now, I try to go back to her blog and I'm redirected to an adult website! WHOA, I know in the past Keri has hyped the blog to get more traffic but this seems a bit much!!

It's just after 4 o'clock and after the news break Keri is on the air live, she explains that she couldn't been on for the first hour because she was dealing with an internet issue, and elaborates that her blog has been hijacked!

I'm amused that the circumstances led me to jump to a conclusion but figure it'll be fun to post on the blog.

Because clicking on the link for Keri's blog can bring up some pretty damn explicit porn, I'm disabling the link.

Keri, I would love a shout out letting me know when the issue is fixed so I can set the link back up. ~ Thanks!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Deval Patrick - Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

A big thumbs up to Governor Deval Patrick for reimbursing the 27 thousand dollars that it cost to redecorate the Governor's office and for paying out of his own pocket half the monthly lease on the Cadillac DTS that he chose for the official Governor's car, replacing Mitt Romney's more pedestrian Ford Crown Victoria.

I try to be pretty fair on my political views, so when the newspapers reported that Governor Patrick had:
Hired a 72k a year Chief of Staff to assist his wife in her duties as first lady
Redecorated the Governor's office
Used a State Police Helicopter
Purchased a new Cadillac

I tried to keep an open mind.

When I read about the assistant for his wife, my thoughts were, gee should we really foot the bill for an assistant for Mrs. Patrick? I mean, she's not an elected official or anything, but then I reasoned that we foot the bill for the First Lady of the United States, so maybe this wasn't so out of line. I do think that 72k is a pretty hefty price tag for a glorified appointment manager. Where I live tenured teachers don't make 72k. The mayor of Somerville is paid a little over 85k and he's got to run an entire city! Still I'm willing to give D.P. the benefit of the doubt.

Then I read he redecorated the office. Hey, it's his office now, he's going to be there working hard, he should be able to make it his own. Still, 27k?! 12k for curtains?! I could add a bathroom to my house for that! But it is the office of the Governor and certainly we must budget for upkeep and stuff. If we don't we should and considering how little time Mitt Romney spent in the office who knows how long those curtains have been up.

Then, of course, came the joy-rides in the copter, and I thought really this isn't that big a deal. I mean considering all the 'money is tight' talk maybe D.P. would have thought about the perception a bit more. Considering how badly Jane Swift was treated for using the helicopter to get home for Thanksgiving (people forget the State Ethics board ruled there were no violations). You think D.P. would have handled it differently. However he is the Governor and if using a helicopter allows him to attend functions that he couldn't if he took car, truck or train, I've got no complaints.

Now the Governor's car is in the news! It seems that the 2005 Ford Crown Victoria that Mitt Romney used needed to go! High miles and a broken heater signed the car's death warrant. So D.P. chose a 2007 Cadillac for his new ride - sweet to be sure but the car cost 20 thousand dollars more than a brand new Crown Victoria. D.P. didn't do himself any favors when he mentioned that he wanted another Ford, but they don't make them anymore! Well that's news to the boys at FoMoCo. because they still sell them. So, while the press had a field day with the DeVille for Deval, it turns out that Governor Patrick was given a list of approved cars by the State Police and that his choices were limited to the Caddy or a Chrysler. Well if those were MY choices I'd have chosen the Caddy too! Still it does beg the question why wasn't the Ford on the list? Supposedly it didn't meet the State Police safety standards but this is the car they drive! There was some mention about the Ford's side airbags being a problem but the 46k Caddy doesn't have side airbags? What about that 2005 Ford? How many miles did it have on it for God sakes? The cops run these things non-stop and cab companies use them just how worn out could this one be? You can fix a broken heater can't you? Oh well, he got a Cadillac, big deal, but I have to wonder who is advising him here.

The bottom line is none of this stuff is much of an issue. A lot of it is perception and a lot of it being over hyped by the press. Still it would have been nice for a Governor who is calling for belt tightening to lead by example. In the end I'm pretty sure most of this stuff would have eventually gone away, but for the Governor to reach into his pockets and pay for some of these expenses is something I don't think he needed to or had to do, but I appreciate the gesture.

***If by the way the Governor would like to gift the 2005 Crown Victoria to some average Joe, I'd take very good care of it and I'm sure the kids would love the extra leg room! I can be reached at you for your consideration***

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Question of Boundaries Part III Fall River a City, Fall River a Town

In 1844 a joint commission was appointed, made up of 3 members from each state, to establish the true boundary between Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Although the commission was able to reach a majority decision and issue a report to the Massachusetts legislature in 1848 a committee from Fall River stepped forward and petitioned the legislature not to except the findings.

With the Massachusetts legislature refusing to ratify the decision of her commissioners, both states filed bills of equity in 1852 sending the argument back to the U.S. Supreme Court, both states agreeing to abide by whatever decision the Court should reach.

For Fall River the issue wasn't just one of boundaries but also one of identity for even a century after the village was divided the residents of the northern part of Tiverton, Rhode Island still felt closely aligned with the Massachusetts town they were once part of. By 1852 Fall River was gaining prominence in the textile industry. The town was growing rapidly; even a devastating fire that consumed the heart of downtown in 1843 did little to slow its growth. In 1854, with over 12,000 residents, Fall River had grown so large that it was deemed necessary to apply for a city charter, which was granted by the legislature and adopted at town meeting in April of that year. Tiverton was also dealing with rapid growth. The northern part of town was becoming more built up than the southern part and required more expenditures for infrastructure. Those in the southern part of town felt they faced an unfair tax burden to help maintain the great build up of the north. Also there was sentiment by those in the “Globe” section that they should be separated from the parent town. In May of 1856 the Rhode Island General Assembly passed an act dividing the town of Tiverton. The northern part, from present day State Avenue to the Massachusetts border, became the town of Fall River, Rhode Island.

Naming the town Fall River, RI while clearly demonstrating its close ties to Fall River, MA proved to be something of a headache. Confusion constantly arose of the blurred boundaries and one can assume that persons visiting "Fall River" never quite new which Fall River they were in! Thankfully, such confusion was short lived as the U.S. Supreme Court reached was about to issue as decision.

In 1861 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decree that settled the boundary question once and for all. After reviewing the matter the Court decided not to grant to grant the full claim of either state. The Court further did not attempt to set the boundary in accordance with King's decision. Instead the Court set the boundary in a manner to avoid dividing densely populated areas such as Fall River and Pawtucket. The Court's decision which was to take effect on March 1, 1862 would unite both Fall Rivers and add some additional lands to Westport. In all 11sq. miles formerly under the jurisdiction of Rhode Island would become part of Massachusetts. Rhode Island would gain what is today the eastern part of Pawtucket, that land that is east of the Blackstone River, as well as East Providence.

With 200 year old boundary issue finally resolved that leaves just one question, who got the better deal?

Back to Part I
Back to Part II
On to Part IV
Visit the The Rhode Islander for a more detailed from the Ocean State perspective.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Durfee's 55.5 and the Silver Lining

Great news Fall River, for every 100 students that go to Durfee only 55 of them will graduate 4 years later!

I listened to some of the reaction on the local talk shows and wasn't surprised to hear people screaming about the School Department, the School Committee, the Mayor, the state, the teachers and (shock!) the parents.

I'm not trying to make light of this, it's depressing, disgusting, disgraceful and that's just the D words!

But let's look at this a little more in depth and get a better idea of what's going on, shall we?

The Department of Education report covered students who became freshman in 2002 and tracked them through 2006. In Fall River there were 824 students and 4 years later 55.5% graduated. The report states that 6.4% were still in school, 2.4 were 'non-grad' completers, .4% were 'permanently excluded' and 36.5% dropped out.

So, let's do a little math (and a little rounding) and convert those percentages to students:
824 Freshmen Students
446 Graduates
300 Drop Outs
3 Permanently Excluded
19 Non-Grad Completers.
52 Still in School

A little quick math will show that in my rounding of the percentages I've lost 4 students, but for my less than definitive study, I think we're okay.

So what this means is that 517 students stayed in school for 4 years of those students, 86% (446) graduated in 2006, and another 52 students are still working toward graduation. Another 19 students are 'Non-Grad Completers', which I will assume means they failed the MCAS test.

What this indicates to me is that students that stay in school graduate at a very high percentage. 86% graduated in 4 years and with 52 students still working toward graduation. The percentage of 2002 freshman, that remain in school and graduate, could go as high as 96%.

Okay, so we're not out of the woods, but at least we know that we're doing a really good job with students that stay in school.

So the question is how do we get more of the 303 students who dropped out or were excluded to remain in school?

A good start would be to increase the age when a student can drop-out with parental consent from16 to 18, but at the same time we need to realize that keeping kids in school by itself is not the answer.

We need to determine how many of these kids drop out for academic reasons and how many for other reason such as issues at home. We need to spot trends at a much earlier age and try to provide a support structure long before these kids get to high school. We also need to take a long hard look at what support structure we have in place and see if it really works. We need to really push to implement ideas like the two Horace Mann Charter Schools that were proposed, one for gifted/talented and the other for more challenged students.

Study after study, after study stresses the benefit of and the need for parental involvement. More has got to be done to get parents involved in their children's education. Perhaps the school district should employee an off site counselor that could go to homes of children where parents are unable (or unwilling) to attend school meetings, conferences etc. Perhaps more resources, in the way of tutorial guides and learning aids, need be made available to assist parents in helping their children. More effort needs to be made create a more active and more beneficial role for parent volunteers and parent groups. Parental involvement has the potential not just to benefit a parent's own child but to be a benefit to an entire class or to entire school.

We need to recognize that solving these problems requires both long term plans and short term actions. A failure to do both is basically ensuring the success of some at the failure of others. It is, after all, not too hard to figure out that a good bulk of these 824 students came from 2 of our middle schools during years when they were being recognized as under performing and in turn realize that students who struggled in 6,7, and 8th grades are probably going to continue to struggle in high school. We also need to realize that prioritizing education means funding education and if it seems that we spend more per student than suburban communities it is because we face more issues. Lastly we need to recognize in order to have any real success in reforming our school system that it is going to require that everyone work toward the same set of goals.

Friday, February 02, 2007

One Year Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of the creation of this blog!

In that year I blogged on local events and history, discovered other area bloggers and evolved. Several times I felt a little burned out and felt like closing up shop, but if blogging does nothing else it does give you a space to express your opinion and maybe even have someone comment on it!

It can be quit empowering..and amazingly enough I find that people actually stumble across this blog. Hopefully they find something worth their time and their interest.

Thanks for reading,

To mark Anniversary number one, I'm including a list of past posts that I'm fond of, that I think are worthy of another look. A best of 'Battleship Cove', if you will.

Eleanor Roosevelt no stranger to Fall River

A Little Local Flavor

No Love For City Hall

I'm Guilty!........of N.I.M.B.Y. (Not In My Backyard!)

In The Zone

Matt Amorello and the Fall River-Boston Connection

Chow Mein Sandwiches

Why Does Public Housing Fail?

Homeless Vigil Tonight in Fall River

For Whom the Bell Tolls