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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How Are We Going to Fix the Roads?

With less than a week to go before the election I am going to be honest, I have not been paying attention the races nearly as much as I should.  Since Ed Markey doesn't feel the need to explain why we should send him back to Washington, then why should I care about the public office elections?  I will go in with a closed mind, just like everyone else and vote the way I normally do, However, I have been really researching and marinating the ballot questions on this year’s ballot.  There are some serious questions which will impact everyday lives for everyone in the Commonwealth.  

Question 1 - Eliminating the Gas Tax.  Hopefully the answer to this question does not confuse voters.  A Yes vote would eliminate the requirement that the state’s gas tax be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index.  A No vote would make no change in the laws regarding the gas tax.  I could go down the taxation without representation, but I won't.  The issue I have with this law is that once it gets the green light it will never change.  Repealing the law does not prevent our elected leaders from raising the gas tax annually on their own.  What repealing does do is hold them accountable, because nobody can hide behind the law.  The argument that we will lose all this money for roads to be fixed.  If you have driven on the Mass Pike Westbound you know that's hogwash.  The money is there, don't be scared into voting no.  This one is a slam dunk. 3D voting YES.

Question 2 - Expanding the bottle bill.  Good Lord!  What is this, 1985?  I thought we were past all this with plastic/paper/glass stuff.  The argument for is because we will see less trash and more recycling.  I'm sorry, the people that leave plastic bottles in parks, in gutters and don't recycle properly are not paying attention to this law and I have a secret for you.  They are going to continue to do that whether this law passes or not.  Towns could see nearly $60 million increase on expanding their recycling programs.  Don't you think they could use that money to fix roads?  Another slam dunk.  3D voting NO.

Question 3 - Repealing Gambling Laws.  I truly believed this was Karma working against the Legislature.  The fact that this law was passed without getting the pulse of the state and now it goes to the people to repeal it.  I was leaning towards yes just to show the legislature how inept they truly are.  Then I had a moment of clarity.  I have always been a proponent of gaming and the communities that were awarded gaming sites voted overwhelmingly to allow these facilities in their communities.  So, in essence, the people have spoken.  That's one viewpoint.  What about the jobs and revenue in Massachusetts?  Let's face it people, Springfield is Massachusetts version of Detroit and the MGM Grand, may give the city the boost it needs.  Instead of going to Connecticut and Rhode Island, let’s keep that money here.  Maybe we can fix some roads with it.  Not as resounding as the previous two.  3D voting NO.

Question 4 - Earned Sick Time for Employees - Although I understand the sentiment and I do wish that all employers would step up and do this on their own, they shouldn't be forced to.  This is government intrusion into a private industry.  My core beliefs just can't accept that.  Everyone wants to attack the Wal-Marts of the world but this will hurt the Regatta Delis of the world.  We are supposed to help them not force them to close the doors.  3D voting NO.

That's my take on the four ballot questions and with less than a week left before voting day, if you feel so compelled, please try to change my mind.  I've given you my reasons, give me yours.  Maybe we can fix the roads.

If you don't take it from me, ask my wife

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Time to "Tamp it Down"

Governor Deval Patrick and I finally agree on something.  It has taken almost 8 years but it is finally there.  Can we please "tamp" down the reports on the Ebola virus?  This has literally gotten to the point where I am not even turning my television on because that is all I hear about.  Since Gov. Patrick said those statements to a reporter on Monday, the media is blasting him for not fully grasping the urgency of the issue.  He doesn't understand the urgency??

On Monday night, after Gov. Patrick made those comments, Fox 25 News at 10 spent the first ten minutes of its broadcast on the "scare" at Logan Airport where five passengers were removed from an Emirates flight from Dubai by people in Haz-Mat suits because they were ill the entire flight, roughly 14 hours.  They were brought to a local hospital and declared Ebola free, they had flu like symptoms.  Two studio hosts, one special reporter on set, one reporter at Logan and one reporter at the hospital to report on 5 people that had the flu.  They may as well park themselves outside every public schools nurse's office between now and March because Ebola may spread like wildfire.

The Ebola virus is scary, no doubt.  I read the book "The Hot Zone" when it came out in 1995 and watched the movie "Contagion" last year.  It is real, it is scary and people want to know more, I get it.  But reporting about every person who has the symptoms is a little overkill because it presents the same symptoms as the common cold.

Here are a few facts about Ebola that everyone should know. I pulled these from WebMD and the CDC websites.  It is no more contagious than any other cold, flu or measles.  It spreads through contact with skin or bodily fluids.  Ebola care takers are at an extremely high risk, for example the nurse in Dallas who contracted the disease when tending to man who died from it.  You can’t get Ebola from air, water, or food. A person who has Ebola but has no symptoms can’t spread the disease, either.  Then there is the customary touching of needles and contaminated surfaces.  Symptoms are fever, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, weakness, stomach pain, lack of appetite and vomiting.  If you already knew this, then stop watching the news because they are not giving you any of this information

With cold and flu season upon us, it is possible that this could get worse.  I understand that the world we live in now is that if they don't report it, someone else will.  Unfortunately, that theory has led to the large amount of irresponsible reporting going on in the world.  Rapidity trumps certainties.  Brevity is the key to good communication, but it needs to be factual.  In a story, with such a large audience looking for answers, facts needs to trump speed.


If you don't take it from me, ask my wife

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Life's a Party, Crash It

Last weekend the Baseball Widow and I crashed a wedding. Yep, you read that correctly, we crashed a wedding, well, sort of.  A friend of my wife, with whom she works, was getting married.  The running joke was that she was going to crash the wedding.  Several weeks ago, the bride brought my wife an invitation with the instructions to come after dinner and dance and party with everyone else.

Normally, I would say no way.  My wife was making plans with others that got the same instructions and I relented.  So, I was going to crash a wedding.  I started practicing my art of balloon animals (I hope more than five people get that reference), I started thinking of a  cool person I could be and I started brushing up on my Wedding Crashing Etiquette, as if there is such a thing.  The night before the wedding the bride texts my wife and says that two people have bailed and asked if we wanted to come for the entire reception, we had been called in from the bullpen.  Wedding Crashing dreams dashed.

So my wife and I went to the wedding. I as Don Harrison, a retired fire chief from New York, who happened to have selected one of a handful of the vegetarian meals.  My wife went as Seth Kelly, I didn't catch his back story as I was still reeling from the vegetarian selection.  It was a beautiful reception in the heart of Salem, Mass. and my wife and I got a night out without the kids, winners all around.  Plus "UConn Sucks" was chanted by all the Syracuse alum very often, and quite randomly.  I was in heaven.

The next day my wife struck up a conversation as we headed to my brother's house in Manchester (By the Sea), and stated that authorized Wedding Crashing could be the way to go and that had she thought of it, that is how our wedding would have gone.  Is it law that you have to spend $100-$300 a plate on some people you barely know, family you never see and people that are friends with your parents and not particularly you?  It makes perfect sense.

You could have the ceremony, have a small intimate dinner with your immediate family and wedding party and then open up the doors to the boozers that want to make fools of themselves on the dance floor, what more could you ask for.  I would assume it is probably less expensive and there is no stressing over centerpieces, meal selections and table linens.  I really do wish my wife had come up with this idea.  I would not have needed any selling, given the fact that when we went to look at invitations I told the lady "I would rather do a mass e-mail".

I think this is an idea in which its time has come.  Unfortunately, too many people feel they need a "traditional" wedding. You know the kind, on a beach somewhere, far away, not in a church surrounded by hundreds of your closest friends and family.  Tell me where, I want to crash it, I will supply the balloon animals.


If you don't take it from me, ask my wife.