Friday, April 30, 2010

Open Budgets

Mayor Flanagan is predicting that 2011 will be one of the toughest fiscal years Fall River has ever faced. I guess in an effort to have a more open process and let the people of Fall River weigh in, the Mayor is planning on having several public forums to gauge what people feel can be cut and what services people are willing to pay more for.

Well let me make some predication's on how this will go.

First I predict low turnout, although since we're talking about money I could be proved VERY wrong on that one. However, no matter who shows up here's the input I predict our mayor is going to receive.

1.       We need to fund public safety! People want to feel safe and protected and lately the local news has been filled with stories about crime and arson. They'll be calls to adequately fund our police and fire departments.

2.       We need to fund education! We all know that our school department has been plagued with problems and now they are looking at a 4 million dollar shortfall? They'll be calls to provide the school department with at least the funds to level fund.

3.       We need to fund the Department of Public Works! Has anyone driven down the street yet and NOT hit a pothole? Has your trash been picked up late or not at all? This stuff is all basic services that people expect and I'm sure there will be calls to make sure that the DPW receives no further cuts. There probably should be calls to restore funds already taken away!

4.       Cut administration! Cut the fat! Get rid of the waste! You better believe that this is probably going to be what the mayor hears the most! And let's be honest there certainly is some fat and some waste somewhere. The problem is people tend to view whatever they don't see as a direct need or benefit as waste. I doubt the Flanagan will get much useful input on this one.

5.       "I pay enough in taxes!" Mayor Flanagan will be told, improve public safety and DPW services and education BUT don't raise our taxes! NOBODY wants to pay more taxes and I think fearfully many of us can't AFFORD to pay more taxes. Certainly many of us are willing to pay a bit more for maintaining services, but I doubt that is a majority.
I applaud the concept of public input and open government but in the end Mayor Flanagan is going to have to make the tough decisions we 'hired' him to make. Those decisions will not only be tough but unpopular. People are not going to be happy to have services cut and they're not going to be happy to pay more. There are no easy answers.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flo's - The Quest for Seafood...

After reading a post about clam shacks on New England Bites, one of my favorite blogs, I have been craving some fried clams. The ladies at NEB offered up a list of suitable places but Flo's is a place that I haven't been to in a long, long time and I figured it was time to correct that!

Although I had really wanted to try to get out there last weekend it seemed that one thing after another kept spoiling my plans. However, yesterday after spending the bulk of the afternoon doing some yard work I figured it was time to reward myself! It really has been AGES since I've gone to Flo's, so long in fact I wasn't sure how to get there, but no problem I, along with some companions, hopped into the car secure that the GPS would get us there without a problem.

Board the WHAT?? That was my reaction. You see, we had hopped into the car and drove into Tiverton and then over the bridge, the whole while chatting away pausing for the occasional command by the GPS lady. Once we got into Portsmouth the GPS had me go this way and that and finally over the Mount Hope bridge, odd I thought but it had been a long time. Well after a few more turns the GPS said to "board the ferry". Well that didn't seem right. What the hell...

OK, so now we're retracing our steps and a quick phone call to Flo's in Middletown (Portsmouth has no listed number..) and we get our bearings, Island Park, look for Park Avenue off of East Main Road. So over the bridge again and we set the GPS for East Main Road and...damn this isn't right either. #!$!%#$@! #!$#

So, now we're in East Main Road in Middletown and I'm figuring we could turn around and follow East Main road in the other direction and that will probably put us on track. I'm also thinking the GPS lady needs to be fired. What I was thinking about mostly though was fried clams and that there was a Flo's in Middletown. I was in Middletown. Maybe it was time to just admit defeat and look for the one there. So trusting the GPS lady one more time I searched for the Flo's on Wave Avenue and found I was 3 miles away. Less than 10 minutes later I was ordering the Fried Clam platter, and a Scallop Platter and an order of fish and chips.

Now, I wasn't thinking of a blog post at the time or I would have taken pictures of the location and the food, just like my friends at New England Bites. Flo's is a little box of a building that looks about 3 stories high. It seems surrounded by hotels, restaurants and lounges that all came decades later. The building has a great New England look and feel to it. There is a small gravel parking lot in the back (or was it crushed shells?) which is Wave Avenue. From there a walk along side and into the building revealed a very casual atmosphere which was a real relief since I was wearing the same outfit I had been mowing the grass in just a few hours before! We ordered at the counter and low and behold were given a rock with our number on it. In less than 10 minutes our food was ready and we were heading for some little spot where we could stop and eat.

And what did we think after all the ordeal? It was good! It was very good. Was it the best I've ever had? No, but the clams were some of the best I've had in a long while. The clams were good and very flavorful, but some were a bit chewy. The review of the scallops was about the same, the one I stole was very good though, and the fish got good marks too. The portions were a decent size and prices seemed reasonable. The clam platter was $16, the scallops, $14 or $15 and the fish was $9. Would we go again? I think the consensus is yes but I don't think everyone would get the same thing again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's April, bring on May!

Well April has flown by and I here I am just putting together my first post!

It's been a draining month and honestly there has been little that has made me even think about blogging never mind something that has me firing away at the keyboard. Oh there are things WORTH discussing, casino gambling, local aid cuts, local political races..gee I should have been doing more blogging! Driving home tonight I was flipping through radio channels and stopped on NPR (National Public Radio) and thought I was catching a segment about the newspaper industry. What caught my attention was the talk about the cost of investigative journalism and that the cost of blogging an opinion only costs maybe one salary. Well I WISH!!

So April has been hectic and personally very busy and draining, so I say bring on May!
Warmer weather and longer days means time to enjoy the outdoors. This means lawn mowing and yard work, (not my favorite things..) and grilling (now we're talking!) Well after several faithful seasons I'm wondering if the ol' grill has got another summer left in her. Which is probably just me looking for an excuse to look at new grills! :)
Personally, I prefer a gas grill simply because it lends itself to impulse cooking. Still, there is an allure to charcoal grills. Secretly, I've always wanted to buy the iconic Weber kettle grill and be smug in the fact that I was engaging in the "art" of grilling.

While doing a little research for a friend on grills I came across the Old Smokey, just about as old as the classic Weber, the Old Smokey apparently is iconic in its own right and has its own following. I can only imagine the looks I'd get from family and friends grilling some dogs on this rustic looking grill!

I also came across the PK Grill.

Interestingly this also originates at around the same time as the Weber. The early 50's apparently was quite the time for backyard grilling! The PK certainly has a great look, but at $280 you could buy a Weber, an Old Smokey, a couple bags of charcoal and still have enough money to buy food to grill!

As much as these charcoal grills appeal to me, when it comes time to replace my grill I have a short list of gas grills that I would be looking at. Sadly none of them are bargains, so lots of incentive to keep the old one for another year or so.