The Big Ask

17Apr15

Wakefield School Department officials have acknowledged that their requested 11.4 percent budget increase for FY 2016 is “a big ask.”

The largest piece of that increase is $1,176,875 (3.8 percent) for “contractual salary obligations.” Another $658,174 (2.1 percent) is for SPED tuitions and $628,218 (2 percent) goes to fund salaries related to the newly instituted full-day kindergarten. An additional $378,956 (1.2 percent) is slated for other new positions. A combination of amounts for items like curriculum, technology, transportation and utilities make up the remaining 2 percent of the requested budget increase.

gerard_leemanIn return, what Finance Committee chairman Gerard Leeman and other FinCom members wanted was a comparatively small “ask.” They wanted a commitment – or at least an affirmative statement – from someone in the School Department leadership that they would hold budget increases to 4 percent for each of the next three years.

Evidently, that was too much to ask, because School officials couldn’t quite bring themselves to utter those words.
Continue reading ‘The Big Ask’


There will very likely be a ballot question in 2016 seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. We know this because the activists who in 2012 successfully perpetrated the “medical” marijuana scam are the same people who are now working on the 2016 ballot question to make pot available for recreational use.

marijuanaSo much for their deep concern for the sick.

You’d have to be very naïve to believe that medical marijuana was anything but a foot in the door toward full legalization.

Thankfully, to date not a single medical marijuana “dispensary” has opened in Massachusetts. We can only hope that the recreational pot business meets with a similar level of success.
Continue reading ‘The high road to hell’


Wakefield, MA eliminates winter ban on overnight on-street parking

snow_carLast December, I wrote about a storm brewing on Wakefield social media related to the winter parking ban. The ban, which has been in effect so long no one can remember when it started, prohibits overnight parking on the street from Dec. 1 to April 1 in order to facilitate snow plowing and ensure public safety.

It appears that the Board of Selectmen heard the calls to do away with the winter-long parking ban. On March 23, 2015 the Selectmen voted 5-1 to abolish the ban after one of the worst winters in living memory and despite the strong objections of Public Works Director Richard Stinson.
Continue reading ‘Winter Parking Ban Revisited’


Wednesday, March 25 at 7:30 pm at the Savings Bank Theater – Wakefield, MA

Casey_ShermanThose who attend Wednesday’s opening lecture of the 2015 Sweetser Lecture Series at The Savings Bank Theater are in for a treat.

Speaker Casey Sherman is not just an author and journalist. He is a born storyteller, entertainer and showman who can hold an audience spellbound with true stories about the Boston Strangler, the Boston mob, the Marathon bombings and one of the most daring naval rescues of all time.
Continue reading ‘Author Casey Sherman promises suspenseful Sweester Lecture’


chiefWakefield (MA) Police Chief Rick Smith was at Monday night’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen for the presentation of his department’s budget. But in light of what he called “a tough year for law enforcement,” Smith also took the opportunity to correct some misconceptions regarding police work in general and to highlight some positives about Wakefield’s Police Department.

Contrary to the impression one might get from following the news, violent crime in the United States is down, according to Smith.

“America in 2015 is a far safer place than America in 1985,” Smith said. “In fact, violent crime in the United States is at the lowest number since 1978.”

Smith said that there was a key reason for this reduction in crime, not only nationwide but right here in Wakefield.
Continue reading ‘Chief Rick Smith: Police are guardians of society’


Alicia Reddin is the new VSO for Wakefield & Saugus, MA

“When I really feel strongly about something, I don’t give up,” says Wakefield’s new Veterans Services Officer Alicia Reddin.

That’s good news for veterans in the district that includes Reddin’s territory of Wakefield and Saugus. Reddin is replacing former VSO Andrew Biggio who has moved on to join the MBTA Police.

Herself a U.S. Navy veteran, Reddin operated heavy equipment with the Navy SeaBees, using bulldozers and cranes to build roads and work the quarries in places as far away as Guam.

alicia_reddin4

How she enlisted in the Navy is further evidence of her decisiveness and determination.

After she graduated from high school at age 17, Reddin didn’t feel that she was academically ready for college. So she walked into a recruiter’s office in Malden Square on a Friday afternoon before Memorial Day.

“I left for boot camp the next day,” she recalls. “It was a great decision. I was glad I kind of dove in head first.”
Continue reading ‘Local veterans have a strong new ally’


Not the Time

21Feb15

snow_piles021515
Normally, I give topics like Global Warming and Climate Change a good leaving alone. It’s a slippery slope that can quickly trigger an avalanche of supercilious lectures from the Reality-Based Community.

But in my reality I have eight feet of snow in my front yard and if the AccuWeather Boston forecast holds true, we’ll finish icicle021815February with 26 of 28 days below normal temperatures, most of them well below normal.

So I’m a little cold right now and a little tired from shoveling. (I don’t own one of those carbon-spewing snow blowers.) And when I’m cold and tired, I’m cranky.

In general, Climate Change and Global Warming tend to poll very low in terms of issues that Americans are most concerned about. That’s especially true when icicles stretch the height of three story buildings and two-foot thick ice dams are causing water to gush into people’s dining rooms and kitchens.

So right about now, a little Global Warming doesn’t sound like such a bad idea to a lot of people.
Continue reading ‘Not the Time’




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