Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

The lack of transparency in the DeMaria administration has left many question lingering in the air. In the spirit of the old children's game "20 questions" here are 20 questions we would like to ask the Mayor and get a straight answer once and for all. A public hearing is coming up on Woodwaste on 10/29 @ 7:00 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers, so we offer some food for thought here. We invite the Mayor to post his answers here under this thread, as we are quite certain he reads this blog faithfully. So, what say you Mr. Mayah?

The questions we'd like to ask and have answered by Mayor DeMaria:

1. What really happened the led to the dismissal of Clayton Carlisle?

2. How much money and in kind donations did you receive from any persons or entities connected to William J. Thibeault, owner of Woodwaste?

3. Are you giving (or promising) city jobs to elected officials and family members in exchange for greater cooperation from our legislative bodies?

4. Would you be willing to publish the opinions of the state ethics commission regarding all your consolidation plans and hiring practices?

5. What ever happened to the Board of Fire Commissioners? Is it true that the board is part of the Firefighters grievance procedure and if so, doesn't that make the negotiated contract null and void whereas the city of Everett agreed to have the board of fire commissioners as part of the grievance process? How do the firefighters get due process if this is the case?

6. Is it true you are planning on asking for $2M to offset the property tax increase that will result, in part, from your over-inflated budget?

7. How will you justify these high salaries and other questionable expenditures to the property owners when you ask them to dig even deeper to pay for your patronage hires and Woodwaste support that in the end, will no doubt cost the taxpayer even more money in cleanup costs as Thibeault continues to violate law and after law?

8. Did Mr. Brandano refuse to put a DeMaria for Mayor sign in front of his house?

9. Was #8 (above) at all related to DCR (at your request) forcing Mr. Brandano from his voluntary upkeep of the area?

10. Now that some state funding has been cut from school programs who is going pay for the pothole repair machine you justified as a legitimate purchase using money targeted for the school children?

11. How do you look John Hanlon straight in the eye after way you have treated him and his supporters that so gracefully went to the voting booth on your behalf at John's request?

12. Why didn't you show up for any of the transition meetings that Mayor Hanlon arranged for your administration to make the transition easier?

13. What ever happened to "Gone are the days....."????

14. Do you still maintain that no grievances have been filed by either of the two police officers who were #1 and #2 on the list when you jumped them over to rehire an officer who left the job on his own volition and was reinstated against the Chief's objections?

15. If Ms. Deveney, your Chief of Staff resigns or is terminated, would you please post the position? I know many administrative assistants who would jump at the prospect of making $91,000 per year? Seriously, we know she is a lawyer, but you justified the hiring salary under the pretense she would also serve as City Solicitor? When the state knocked down that idea as a violation of state ethics, her salary never got knocked down... why???

16. You hired Jason Marcus' girlfriends son to serve as the Director of ECTV. Yet, all we see in work coming from Mr. Laidlaw has more to do with your public relations campaigns (press releases, public events) than it does with actual production work done under the PEG grant. When is Matt going to do actual ECTV work as required by the grant conditions?

17. Is it true that a suit has been filed against the planning board relative to their decision to discontinue fourth street? Wasn't Ruth granted easement for fourth street?

18. You guesstimated it would cost about $100,000 to buy Ruth's interest in the 4th Street property? Now that a suit has been filed, would you care to readjust that estimate to include the readjusted fair market value of the land and her attorney fees?

19. Why do I spend so much time watching a blank screen on ECTV or culling through any number of bounced emails that can't find their way through the city's "system" since Matt Laidlaw took over?

20. Would you be willing to swear that you, your friends and family, and/or campaign supporters will not realize any financial gain whatsoeever now or in the future should Woodwaste be allowed to develop the property on lower Broadway?

Bonus Question: Does your job as Mayor make it difficult to look in the mirror each morning?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chicken Lips - Opinion

We knew we passed into a "new dimension" after watching the joint convention, the special Common Council meeting that followed, and the regularly scheduled Board of Alderman meeting on Monday, September 8, 2008. We musta got in a hedge late, because we seemed to have missed that Rod Serling guy, but we caught the rest of the show. Too bad, the missus really likes that guy's voice.

First off, we feel that city government is heading in the right direction with the discontinuance of Fourth Street, but not for the reasons one might think. The only reason that move was practical was to increase the value of the property, but for a buyer that would have less selfish motives and greater environmental/health sensibility than Woodwaste.

After the track record that Mr. Thibeault has established in his broad business dealings, along with his propensity for violations of contractual agreements, sections of law and entire EPA regulatory orders, should the Mayor and Everett City officials honestly consider letting this move to Lower Broadway go forward, in spite of knowing about Thibeault's history of reckless (environmental/health risk) behavior? As Chuck DiPerri stated "these are two separate issues" but one is a precursor to the other, Chuck. They may be separate LEGAL issues, but don't fool yourself. A is connected to B and one without the other is no good to Thiebeault.

If the City let's Thibeault move forward and in the event some environmental or hazardous situation occurs and damages and/or loss of life sustained, then in our eyes, the City could (and should) be held liable (through contributory negligence) for any illness...(or death)...and/or any damages (losses$$) that may go along with it. Our elected officials have a duty to act through taking an oath of office. And that duty to act means to do so in the best interest for the well being and safety of the residents. They are failing to do so in this instance.

Let us frame this another way. William Thibeault has proven at Boston Street and elsewhere, to be a health and safety risk under his current licenses and has displayed no shame in showing his utter contempt for both the force of law and well being of the individuals being harmed or at risk of harm. That type of business ethic should have sealed the deal right there. We are not looking for a "show of good faith" from the guy to let him move to lower Broadway; we're looking for him to pack his bags and hit the road, Wood Waste and all.

Is it not correct that if a homeowner delinquent in property taxes in this city that she/he/they would be prevented from buying a second house until making good on the taxes owed for the first? Would the city then say "oh well, we know they'll be good neighbors and eventually pay the tax lien so we'll let them buy the second property?" Not likely, unless your Thibeault of course. Try not paying an overdue excise tax sometime then try to register a second vehicle. Give'em ten bucks, tell'em you'll send the rest in two years, then ask them to go ahead and register your new vehicle. Let's see how that works out for you, huh? Fahgettaboutit.

But, Thibeault can thumb his nose from Boston Street at the city, state, abutters, and the courts, while the Mayor claims his performance reputation could not and would not be called into question in this so called "lawsuit" Thibeault has going? Sheep-dip. The city not only has every right to deny him, but at this late stage should be moving to permanently dislocate the business from this city - period.

Back to the real meat on the bone here. Thibeault is a liability to the city. Any reasonable person on a jury would be able to see that. If the Mayor and the City Council allow him to go forward without fighting it on all fronts, then in our eyes the City shares any liability borne out of letting Thibeault further advance in this city. The fact is that our city government has an obligation to protect us from such corporate predators but they seem resigned to the mistaken belief that they, as a government body, are forced to go along with this choice. That flimsy excuse doesn't fly here. The real reasons certain Councilors and Aldermen are playing ball resides in the fact because deals are being made behind closed doors. If you're an elected official in this city and want to get your no good bum of a brother in law a job, well then it seems all you have to do is line up with the Mayah on Woodwaste. A blind man could see it for goodness sake.

The other question we have is to wonder how Homeland Security might feel about the current owner playing with the railroad spurs down there near the LNG property. The proposed site and rails are close enough to Distrigas to raise numerous safety concerns for us. I'm surprised the state fire Marshall's office or at least MEMA has not been queried about this option. Is it wise having a highly combustible facility (Wood Transfer station) anywhere near an LNG port facility? Can you spell K-A-B-O-O-M?

And what about the first "pile" that gets left down there exposed? Does windblown debris find its' way into the river or elsewhere? As someone noted at the 09/08/08 Joint Convention, if those "piles" on Boston Street ever catch fire, it is going to be ugly. It would be even uglier if it happened anywhere near lower Broadway. Just think about the traffic catastrophe alone that a large scale fire could cause in that area. It is amazing that those charged with the public trust not only don't see the potential for problems, but remain steadfast in trying to convince the (Everett) world it is wrong. There is zero support for this move coming from the residents, but the Mayah and Council would have you believe otherwise.

In fairly short order this shortsightedness could cost the city a great deal of money in lost property tax revenue as well. The inevitable will happen if Woodwaste is allowed to relocate. There will be no "development" taking place. The only businesses that will be attracted will be those similar to Woodwaste. We just don't know of many retailers that are chomping at the bit to move in beside a sludge plant and the proposed wood transfer facility, enclosed or not. The collateral effect will have the few homeowners left in the area give up and the entire area will be of no retail or residential value. In the end the area will consist solely of commercial/industrial dwellers with the same caustic potential we rid the area of in the 1980's.

Yet, there could hope for the area should a developer with a green conscience be found. Environmental green that is, not money green. In the end, the meeting only proved one thing to us: The Mayor has dug his heels in and is going to ride this suicide train right to the end of this brief reign. Unfortunately, long after the children of Everett residents will be getting on board in a few years while Thibeault drives the train the Mayah rings the bell. All aboard...Choo Choo...chug..a chug chug goes Thibeaut Kaching... Kaching... goes the Mayah, ringing the bell.

We leave you with this link to save lower Broadway. Here you will get a detailed picture of what has happened to date on the issue.

Your Friend,
The Rolling Pin

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Opinion: Pretty Flowers and Yellow Brick Roads

It's been a while since DBC opined to the ongoings at City Hall, but quite frankly, with one senseless action following another in such rapid fire, capturing any purpose behind the dealings has all the challenge of nailing Jell-O to a tree. We posited here earlier in the year that the Mayah's undoing would generally boil down to the debacle regarding Wood Waste and the budget hearings of 2008. The latter claim of course was quite general in description as it would hold all things, dollars and cents, and even lack of sense in some of the finer detail for scrutiny. Let's see if we can get somewhat of a capsuled update together here with maybe even a new revelation or two.

What the budget meetings revealed for us here at DBC is the one proven fact that AG Martha Coakley will need to add another department within its' Ethic Division to deal with all the questionable practices taking place under Hizzoner. He tried to make his Chief of Staff also the City Solicitor. It seems that move didn't fly. He has allowed the merger of the Budget Director and Purchasing Director again, without a clear green light on the ethics legality. We also have elected officials resigning or planning to resign office to take visible paid position(s) in the City's government despite clear language to the contrary prohibiting such practices under state ethics law. We wait with baited breath to see the names for the new firefighter's list.

Yet has the Mayor or one of the appointments in question ever produced any written proof that they have responsibly undertaken the moral and legal obligation to seek out such opinion from the State Ethics Commission? Of course not. The general public has relied on "the word"of the very people who benefitted on these moves hearing "The state said it was ok" or some such patronizing comeback rather than demanding to see a written opinion from the Attorney General's office and have it be publicly offered for viewing. Let's face it, the DeMaria administration has not made one high profile personnel decision that does not have an ethics cloud hanging over it. Of course, although it be only our opinion, we steadfastly maintain that we believe Hizzoner consistently acts first to satisfy his self serving needs and then, only then, in the best interest of others.

Simply put, Carlo DeMaria is doing what has been done for years in Everett's political patronage system only he has taken it to a whole new level. He has elevated political patronage to an art form. We hear tell through City Hall sources who shall remain anonymous that there is a much larger goal to all this orchestration and it is not solely confined to moving Wood Waste into a beneficial situation as we first suspected nor simply repaying the campaign assistance to one of the Mayor's chief supporters, William Thibeault, the owner of entities such as Wood Waste of Boston and New Ventures LLC. There is a much greater purpose at hand. As a reminder, the latest on New Ventures (and its' possible impact on Woodwaste and Everett) is set to take stage in court on July 14, 2008.

Hizzoner has adopted a rough idea left over from the Hanlon administration. He envisions one central government facility in Everett's future. He is considering a facility that will house all fire, police, school dept, city administrative functions, 911, and all other governmental operations in one area/building. You see dear Everett resident, that is why you don't hear much about the old Everett High School nor plans for its' sale. Our Mayor now holds plans of doing a few real estate sales on the side or so it would seem. Centralizing all the services would free up a great deal of city property (fire stations, police station, 911, etc) to be sold on the open market to private developers. One can only imagine the collusion that could take place in transfer of those several properties and the potential for corruption. We don't back away from the claim that Woodwaste and the connection with Thibeault is a disastrous one for Everett and that the situation certainly remains a major focus for the administration and a looming potential nightmare for the Everett resident. That certainly is a concern, but there appears to be a larger picture emerging as to just how far Mr. Mayah will go to achieve his own goals.

It just didn't make sense to us here at DBC that Hizzoner would be willing to take such heat on the Carlisle appointment merely to facilitate only the Wood Waste deal. We suspected there had to be more to the story and now it appears we were correct in our doubts. With Mr.Carlisle leaving his last employment with the town of Southbridge under not so good circumstances, we had to ask ourselves why the Mayah would go out on such a limb and take yet another beating on favorability points on this one controversial decision. We asked ourselves "Was all that needed just to get Wood Waste in play and did he really want us to believe that Clayton Carlisle was the best we could get from a statewide search to perform these "consolidated functions?" I guess the Mayah is justified in thinking we really are that gullible. After all, we put him in office once despite his lies and mediocre Aldermanic performance, so why shouldn't he believe we swallow yet another non answer of a whale story from him?

Now that we learn of this pipe dream the Mayah has for centralizing all government services in one building/location, we can see exactly why he needed such a person as Carlisle to take the lead and why it was important to merge the purchasing and budget director's position. The Mayah does not want merely to consolidate services, he also wants to consolidate power; his power; and the goodwill that can be bought by making certain city properties available to the right developers would be nothing short of a grand windfall for the Mayah's reelection campaign. And in our opinion his only shot, albeit a long shot at this stage, of even coming close in reelection. Goodwill (translation: political favors that translate to votes and campaign support) is a great thing to politicians, especially when the favor is owed to the elected official and it is during campaign season. And it is always campaign season in Everett.

The Mayah will need these commercial supporters added on because he is quickly alienating most all other sectors that helped get him elected or could possibly help in the next election, save the businesses he is courting. We suspect that the forthcoming tax rate will contain a nice increase for the property owners in Everett. At this point and without a large cash infusion from elsewhere, it seems inevitable that the Everett homeowner will get hit yet once again come time to get the bill. He can kiss the homeowner vote Ga'bye if that happens. Just ask John Hanlon. Add in the rank and file of the city worker being hit in the pocketbook over promised raises being taken back; the ongoing ethical questions surrounding city jobs and appointments; changing ordinances to achieve some greater mystery; mix in a little noxious odor from Woodwaste and you have quite a package on your hands Mr. Mayah. Good luck.

Hizzoner put all these high price decisions into play and doesn't have the means to pay for them until he can attract more business to the tax base. Does the term "cart before the horse" mean anything? He thought he could just slide all this right through without a whisper of objection. And he was almost right. Ask yourself this Mr. and Mrs. voter? "What concrete and detailed plans have I heard from the Mayor about moving this city forward?" When you examine the question closely you'll see he has detailed very little for you and there is a reason for such vagueness. In our best opinion the Mayah and company realizes that enemy number one is the informed voter and their (the DeMaria administration) actions are testimony to that very fact.

Hint: Pay close attention to the Board of Alderman composition in the event Mr. Nuzzo takes a city paid position as is the rumored plan and needs to be replaced. If Mr. Mayah does not get the right player seated on the board his grand design becomes an even greater longshot in our opinion. The reasons for all of the above mentioned orchestrations will then become increasingly clear to most voters in the next several months. Don't rely on the rags for your true insight. They are bought and paid for through advertising dollars provided by City Hall and would never bite the hand the feeds them by telling you the whole truth. All you'll find there is outright lies and half truths at best.

The handwriting has been on the wall and getting larger by the day. Be suspect of every innocuous request these days because nothing emanating from the corner office can ever again be taken at face value. Keep your eye on the man behind the curtain.

But on the bright side............ we love the flowers!

Your friend,
The Rolling Pin

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pssst.. Hey Buddy.... Wanna Buy A Watch?

Reality TV, step aside, Hizzoner and our new(est) City Solicitor showed you a tap dance that would rival Fred and Ginger's best performance. The show opened at 7:00 p.m. sharp, featuring the Board of Alderman, Monday evening April 28, 2008. And what a shewww we had for you! Welcome to Pin the Tail on the City Solicitor.

Hizzoner has more lawyers working at city hall than John Gotti had to keep him out of jail. It seems every week there is a new choice for "city solicitor." There are no shortages of lawyers up City Hall but one was too small........ one was too big..... but this one is jussssttt right???

Let's review: We started with Hanlon's hold overs of Kryzovick, Dragone, and Mark Miller added to our existing legal talent at City Hall that function in other capacities to include James Henderson and the Alderman Robert Van Campen. Then we added Deveney, Mejia, Ms. Murphy (who is reportedly "..a paralegal ready to pass the bar any day now"), and Ms. Berringer who worked for the law office representing New Ventures aka Thibeault.

Then we dump Kryzovick and Dragone; keep Miller; promote Mejia to Acting City Solicitor; all the while launching a statewide search for a suitable candidate for City Solicitor. Apparently at the time, none of the half dozen or so legal talents already milling about City Hall were suitable candidates. Go figger.

In the meantime, we have Mista Mayah doing his Keith Lochart impression by rearranging the orchestra, editing the music, and changing the residency rule on City Solicitor so we could search beyond the City's borders, as he orignally requested. But, lo and behold, hiding right under the Mayor's nose is this huge immense talent that functions in the position as his overpaid Chief of Staff - and it turns out she is just the right ticket. But, ah drats... doesn't she live outside the City of Everett..... oh... that's right... we changed that ordinance.

Regardless, we're supposed to swallow the belief that first off, we had the perfect candidate (Ms. Deveney) right in our stable to begin with but no one knew it? 100% pure unadulterated horse hockey. Then the next question becomes: Why all this orchestration with searches, hirings, and terminations in that department??? Could it have something to do with that little change in ordinance regarding the residency for our City Solicitor?? Ya Think?

Let's show the Mayor's word game for what it is: This "move" is to justify a $90,000 plus per year salary (for an Executive Assistant position elevated to the title of Chief of Staff) so the Mayor can have his own personal lawyer by his side, in the Mayor's office, but without having to get critized for adding a high end salary to the Mayor's office staff. In other words, he is just deferring the expense salary by making it appear that she is doing the City Solicitor's job, a department that will be paying her salary. We don't believe you will see a much real "City Solicitor" work being performed by her, but her signature will sure enough appear on the documents.

We believe the Mayor knew where he wanted to go with Ms. Deveney's position and planned this from the beginning. He wanted Ms. Deveney on board from day one as his personal lawyer, needed to be able to justify the salary, and had to get the Solicitor's residency requirement portion of the ordinance changed before he could do so.

If what we speculate here is factually correct or becomes so in the near future, then SOMONE in the City Solicitor's office will be doing all the work and getting little of the credit and that "someone" will not be Ms. Deveney. She will be conveniently sided by the Mayor, staving off the huge number of lawsuits he is going to bring about himself and the city.

If this is the case, and we believe we are correct in our hypothesis here, then the Mayor never gave a second thought to the immense amount of time and money wasted going through his phony search so he could pull off this thinly veiled ruse. It appears if the ends justify the means, and he can bring the deal to the table, the collateral damage is fine with our Mayor. It is our opinion, but we believe it is a fast growing one, that Mayor DeMaria holds little to no regard or respect for the very people who voted for him and will continue to operate in a secretive manner so long as he can ahieve his goals.

But lest we forget, he is not doing it alone. Our elected officials of the City Council are letting him trample upon every moral, legal, and ethical boundary he meets, and they let him do so once again at the 4/28/08 BOA meeting. We'd really like to know what the prize in the Cracker Jack box is for the Mayor, but most likely only he and his chief supporters know that answer for sure. The rest of the folks will just have to see it for yourselves in two or three years. You think the Incredible Hulk had a radical transformation? Just sit back and watch this rags to riches story of Cindafella unfold; you haven't seen anything yet.

We've had so much fun playing Pin the Tail on the City Solicitor that we hate to see the episodes come to a conclusion!!!! Is there a home version available for purchase? We can't wait for the next reality show from Everett City Hall: Dancing With Stars on the Reserve Firefighter's list. I think we'll Thibeault this one....... er.. um.. we mean TiVo ..... we get so confused... Stay Tuned

Your Friend,

The Rolling Pin

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

As I said to my horse "Why the long face?"

We at DBC believe that Mayor DeMaria's tenure will be a short lived one at City Hall. At this juncture, it appears to be two years and that will be it. There will be a number of debatable moves on the part of the Mayor, but we feel that at the end of the proverbial day (this term/2yr) it will largely boil down to two things: The Wood Waste/New Ventures/Thibeault connection to the Mayor and the budget debates of the upcoming and following fiscal years. It remains to be seen whether our budget committee on the whole will be aggressive with the Mayor such as they had been with the previous administration or remain silent. We at DBC are betting on the latter, untl they are forced to take a position by the public.

To that end, we offer the following:

What is frightening to us at DBC specifically in the August 2006 article that follows from, it is the tactics being used by New Ventures versus state oversight and compliance regulators regarding the Newburyport facility. At the end of the article below, we implore you to ask yourself honestly "Does this scenario sound familiar and am I going to sell my children and grand children's good health down the river only to avoid ruffling a few feathers?" I'm pretty sure you'll come to the right answer.

Of particular interest herein is the paragraph that details how New Ventures entered into an agreement to cap the Newburyport landfill and now disputes who is fiscally responsible for a permanent solution to the complaint. The plan for Everett is the same and the results will be the same: "The debris New Ventures shipped in contained sheetrock, which is made up almost entirely of paper and gypsum. When mixed with rain and allowed to rot, those ingredients produce the hydrogen sulfide gas that is sparking complaints from dozens of neighbors."

The same power move is taking place in Everett and perhaps with an added twist that involves the already approved Boston Sludge Plant. If Wood Waste (aka New Venturers) enters into a process that results in also converting some of the wood waste to a sellable product, one of those products found from processing wood waste material is "a municipal sludge binding agent." Wouldn't it be convenient for Wood Waste to have its' biggest customer right next door? I suspect (but have not confirmed) that the binding agent is supplied to the Sludge Plant in order to solidify the "sludge" for final transport and disposal. Can you say "Unending Revenue Stream?" Thiebault can and he is giving diction lessons on that very topic if you listen carefully.

The second noteworthy passage talks about the area of agreement between the state EPA and New Ventures. They both agree that state intervention is the last thing either party wants. As written: ``But if the government takes it over, it will be many times the cost it would be for a private party to do it. That's why the government isn't responding to the political pressure to take it over. If they take it over, they will be facing the same problems we're facing today."

However, you can see that the Newburyport residents are clearly begging for relief and this call for action that just resulted in state intervention began at least as far back as two years ago. Any personal or corrupt motives of politicians and business owners aside, this still leaves the fact that the state and of course, it's entities (EPA etc) follow suit, leaving affected residents largely to their own devices until such time as the state regulator's collective backs are against the door, then they step in only to minimize further liability born by the state. There is little doubt this is where Everett will find itself standing (as a community) a few years from now, unless you the citizen move to stop it and move now.

In a separate online article found through "google" of "New Ventures and Wood Waste", we happened to note that New Ventures position regarding the town of Newburyport's complaint is/was that because there are new demands (noxious odors to be corrected etc) that New Ventures wants all those who used the land before them to be held responsible for their respective contributions to the contamination and remediate same at their own expense, most notably the town itself which New Ventures claims is responsible for 95% of the cost whereas they allowed it to become a dump in the first place.

Put another way, New Ventures enters into an agreement with the town to handle its' landfill and turns around and threatens to sue the town for what they knew they were getting in the first place. It's a pretty coy scam if you ask me. It is interesting that New Ventures takes the position that it is the very people (residents and town of Newburyport) charging them with non compliance that New Ventures, in part, claims is responsible for the original contamination having operated it is a dump for years previous. Am I to believe that New Ventures didn't know that going into the deal?

In the end what you seem to have, at least in Newburyport, is the residents standing mano-y-mano against New Ventures with no zealous backing from the state. This leads me to believe that if your Mayor is indeed planning on helping New Ventures move forward the only way it might be prevented or regulated to the residents satisfaction is through the courts. It has become clear that he intends to take no position on this until forced to do so and in the meantime, has his minions loading the court of public opinion with misleading statements and outright lies.

I'm not a legal scholar by any means, but it seems to me that the only quick protection is in a class action lawsuit, first seeking an injunction to prevent any further dealings until the facts are made public and you may be dealing with the charge that the Mayor is in violation of open meeting laws himself by advancing this environmentally and emotionally charged issue that could affect the lives of many people and doing so behind closed doors. You all need to get this stopped and quick before a deal is inked. Once the initial approval goes forward, you will never stop him. It is in the best interest of the Mayor to keep this issue silent until such time as he can claim to renege will only cost the city hundred of thousand of dollars in litigation. In other words, the residents will get the "it's too late to stop it" excuse, which is why everyone, including your councilors are remaining silent.

In fact, I am not quite sure how it is your executive and legislative branches are allowing this huge pink elephant to remain in the room without even acknowledging its' presence to the residents. The residents have rights, open meeting rights, and an issue of this magnitude should be completely discussed in open forum.

After reading this, my worry, my immense worry, is that the state will only involve itself with Everett's situation to the bare extent necessary. Given that it seems to be that you have no local or state advocacy by way of political and government force, then your only recourse is through a citizen action group. On that note, I might suggest you seek out and ask assistance from one of the larger known environmental advocacy non profits. They love to sink their teeth into fighting big business and big government.

In short it would be a mistake to think any of your political leadership has your best interest and future health concerns of forthcoming generations in mind on this matter. I am sure they will wish to dodge this at all costs. This translates to the foregone conclusion that should you let them even set a corner stone on opening business you will never get them to comply with EPA and OSHA requirements nor will you be able to shut them down for violation without a court battle extending over years, not months.

I submit to you the only recourse is citizen action. You need to organize, in person and in public. Debate under screen names and anonymous does nothing more than inform a few otherwise less than enlightened citizens, but not much more. I suggest at minimum, you post an online downloadable letter, complete with addresses of elected officials, and provide the option for people to print them out, fill in their names (politicians won't respond unless you give them that info) and demand an open meeting on this whole issue.

Otherwise, you may soon be at the ballot box holding your nose, but it appears you'll be doing that anyway. I don't know about you, but I won't be surprised when I see a six figure consulting deal between New Ventures and your current Mayor when the Mayor rejoins private industry. The salary alone could be negated by interest gained on escrow accounts being deposited for bonding purposes or some similar type of account. New Ventures had to put up $3M for Newburyport.

From a business standpoint, it is an investment for Mr. Thibeault. Use the Mayor to get his deal in place then hire him as a six figure consultant. Thibeault would just consider that salary as a business expense necessary to make seven figures in the long run.

If, as rampant speculation holds, that the Mayor did accept hefty amounts of financial backing from Thibeault, then they owned him from the beginning whether he saw this coming or not. He can either play ball with them and have one of two things happen: 1. He gets reelected and the private industry deal still awaits him or 2. He gets dumped after the first election and gets his private industry deal (consulting) a few year sooner. Or he can have what is behind curtain number three - he can disagree with Thibeault, suffer in November 09 (and as we have seen, Thibeault has the time and money to buy elections) and walk away with his gold watch, thank you card and return to the land of the honey dip donut. I'm betting your Mayor already sold his soul, and although most likely regretting it now, sees the bleak handwriting on the dark cold wall - "play ball or suffer the consequences."

You're not going to be able to "unring" the bell. Do not wait for your politicians to get involved - organize, take this into your own hands, and keep a detailed record, you're going to need it.

Good Luck.

Your Friend,
The Rolling Pin

And now the article:

State is asked to close dumpBy Tim Wacker, Globe Correspondent August 10, 2006

Cloudless skies, temperatures in the 80s, and low humidity usually mean a beautiful day, but William Woodbury had to check the hydrogen sulfide meter outside his Charmanski Drive home last weekend to be sure.

``It all depends on which way the wind is blowing," he said. ``If the wind's blowing from the northwest, it smells like rotten eggs."

That smell comes from the former city dump, Crow Lane, which adds a new dimension to weather forecasts these days for a few hundred homes within a half-mile radius. The dump and the hydrogen sulfide gas it emits have pitted Everett-based building debris disposal company New Ventures LLC against neighbors and government officials incensed about the lack of progress on the firm's plan to cap the landfill.

Last week those officials called on the state Department of Environmental Protection to take over the project.

``It's been extremely frustrating for us," said Newburyport Mayor John Moak . ``We haven't had the ability to get anything done on this except to stop them from bringing in any more material. As much as I wanted New Ventures to get this done themselves, we need to get the air quality up to standards."

The call for state help came after preliminary tests results last week showed hydrogen sulfide gas had reached unhealthy levels, according to federal guidelines. So, Moak, state Representative Michael Costello, and state Senator Steven Baddour signed a letter asking the DEP to take over closing and capping the facility.

But comments this week by the DEP and Attorney General Thomas Reilly's office, which filed suit against New Ventures in February, suggest some state reluctance to take over a problem with costly solutions.

``We've been working with the attorney general's office, pressing for additional action, and we hope that New Ventures will be cooperative and take further actions now," DEP spokesman Joe Ferson said. ``We recognize that this has been an ongoing and difficult project for a number of years."

When New Ventures owner William Thibeault took over the city-run landfill in 2000, it was with the understanding that he'd cap the 60-foot mountain of garbage with a mix of dirt and construction debris specifically permitted under state law for such purposes.

The debris New Ventures shipped in contained sheetrock, which is made up almost entirely of paper and gypsum. When mixed with rain and allowed to rot, those ingredients produce the hydrogen sulfide gas that is sparking complaints from dozens of neighbors.

They have organized themselves on the Internet and every day exchange e-mails over how much the gas bothered them the night before, at what time, and for how long. The e-mails have grown into a two-year log of complaints that are dumped daily into city, state, and New Venture computers as state and local officials have tried to get a better handle on the severity of the problem.

``It's almost a daily occurrence," Woodbury said of the smell. ``It starts at about 3 in the morning and by 7 a.m. it can be gone. It's worst just after it rains. The stuff starts to stink and then it all depends on which way the wind is blowing."

As those complaints piled up, so has government pressure on New Ventures. In December the city ordered New Ventures to stop shipping in the construction debris.

In February, Reilly's office filed suit, threatening New Ventures with millions in fines if the company didn't get rid of the odors and clean up foul water leaching from the landfill into surrounding wetlands. New Ventures has since installed filters to remove the foul-smelling sulfur from the gas, and Reilly's office is waiting to see how well they work.

``If it doesn't work, we'll ask the courts to take further action," said Jim Milkey , chief of environmental protection at Reilly's office. ``We will certainly pursue all options to make sure these problems are solved, but it's our preference that private parties fund the solution to this."

New Ventures is also opposed to a state takeover, said company attorney Chip Nylen. Such a takeover likely means the company would lose a $3 million performance bond New Ventures put up to guarantee the work it promised to do when it signed the deal with the city five years ago.

``We've already spent six figures on this project and we'll be into seven by the time it's through," Nylen said. ``But if the government takes it over, it will be many times the cost it would be for a private party to do it. That's why the government isn't responding to the political pressure to take it over. If they take it over, they will be facing the same problems we're facing today."

Costello is convinced that New Ventures has deliberately delayed the project. Before the city ordered New Ventures to stop the capping project, trucks had been hauling debris in daily for two years.

With construction debris disposal costs reaching upwards of $150 per ton, the capping project was a moneymaker for New Ventures as long as the trucks kept rolling, Costello said.

``They're making a ton of money . . . they want to dump as much in that landfill as possible," he said. ``If Thibeault had been up front from the beginning and closed that landfill, we wouldn't have this problem."

The dump was supposed to close in October, according to the deal that allowed New Ventures to take over the property from the city. Nylen says that's not likely to happen now since the city halted the capping project in December.

Residents already resigned to what will likely be many more months watching which way the wind blows are mostly in favor of a state takeover. They feel greater public involvement will mean more public oversight in a big problem they've been living with for years.

``There has been no oversight of New Ventures, and you have to watch these guys 24 hours a day," said Wildwood Drive resident Ron Klodenski . ``The scrutiny is not as critical if the state is doing the work. We've been watching these guys since this project was first under discussion. We were just thought to be the nervous neighbors back then, . . . but it's turned out to be worse than even our most pessimistic thoughts."

© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Follow the Money

There seems to be a great deal of cash floating around Everett City Hall. Rumors of salaries to rival the private sector; insinuations of behind the curtain back room deals being made; and basic speculation that the city is up for sale under the new administration. Much to the consternation of many voters, the Mayor has remained mum on all these issues. Therefore, since the Mayor will not dimiss nor confirm the information flying about, the best we can do is keep record of it and see if the information or speculation proves founded in the future.

One that note, all I can say is "Follow the money"..............