Wednesday, March 7, 2012

United Southbridge takes it to the State House

A group of concerned citizens went to the Massachusetts State House to testify in front of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government at the hearing on H.3900, which is the special legislation pending in the legislature to change our Home Rule Charter in a lot of profound ways that are detrimental to our town. Representative Durant (R-Spencer) misrepresented the magnitude of the Town of Southbridge charter changes. United Southbridge was there to make sure the truth was heard.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Board Of Health Meeting 2/9/2012

Southbridge finally getting its own Welcome Center....at the dump.

Also, Southbridge children will soon be able to spend their summer learning about Chromium, Selenium, and Hydrogen Sulfide, while avoiding explosives. All brought to you by Casella's new PR Firm of Morin, Chekosky, Williams and Cook, otherwise known as the Southbridge Board of Health. The PR firm would like to begin promoting the landfill through summer camp - yes, you read that right -- with children staying for a week, or weekend at the Landfill.  If you're a little nervous of your child having long term exposure to some known carcinogens, a shorter field trip is also an option.  Pack a lunch because the Welcome Center may not be opened just yet.  When it does, we hear it will have a snack bar featuring recycled burgers.

No, this is not a joke.  Well, the recycled burger is, but the rest, sadly, is NOT!   Watch the tragedy unfold in the latest installment of "Board of Health Meeting -- Stacking the Board".

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bleed and Spend, Bleed and Spend, Bleed and Spend!

It must be that time of year again when the Town of Southbridge's administration look to make preparations on how to bleed more money from the residents of the town.  Hearings are scheduled, with little lead time to inform the people, and Town Council meetings agendas are set.  No surprise to many, the uncreative Council and its lack-luster Manager, Christopher Clark, look to figuring out how to force us to part with our money (once again), while not asking a single question on how to cut the spending.  This in a town with one of the highest unemployment, foreclosure, and vacant housing rates in the state.

Let's get one thing clear first.  United Southbridge isn't anti-tax.  We are for responsible use of Town resources.  If taxes are needed to responsibly put those resources into something for the good of the town, then by all means let's see what we can do.  However, this Town Council and Manager have proven to not know the value of a single hard-earned dollar; nor, to have single idea of how to address issues without spending more money. They throw our money about as if it's from bottomless well, but only to expand the government beyond what's necessary.  Do we really need a paid intern to do what a multitude of assistants should already be doing in the Town Manager's office?  Some, already earning over $70,000 per year.  Do we really need more patrol vehicles for the Police Department that go 180 miles per hour when Southbridge is only 6 miles wide and the highest speed limit is 45?  Perhaps they are planning this for when Southbridge is a complete ghost town and can then raise the speed limit to 85.

So, let's begin the process of shutting the Council/Manager's plan down and, if need be, roll back taxes to force their hand at cutting.  Maybe then they'll become responsible with our money.   Basically, like a child, if it can't stop taking candy from the candy dish, you take the candy dish away.  It's for their own good.

United Southbridge will be meeting on to discuss:

December 2, 2011
7:00 PM
111 Main Street
Southbridge, MA
Join us!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

United Southbridge will be Streaming the Town Council Meetings Live!

Check the screen above for the live streaming of this week's Town Council Meeting.

United Southbridge members are smarter than your average councilor and below average town manager.  These folks are wiz kids!!  The Town Manger and some of the Town Councilors that support him wanted to shut down public access to the bi-weekly fiascos that are our Town Council  meetings.  They fired Paul Zotos who was the steward to free and open access of our Public Access Cable.  He was the only thing standing between their iron grip and our right to know.  BUT, Paul is now lawyered up and United Southbridge is ensuring that you see what damage they are doing to our town...live.

United Southbridge will continue to protect your right to open and transparent access to every meeting that our current council are at and we will counter each violation against us with an even more powerful reaction!

If you want to help, join us!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Are You Owed Money by Southbridge?

At last night's Town Council meeting, Ken O'Brien, a private citizen, laid out a perfect argument of how our local government can get things so wrong.  In all this hoopla of dealing with inconsequential issues like trash cops, and clear plastic bags, while a serious economic depression slams into Southbridge like speeding locomotive, the Town Council seem to not be able to get out of its own way.  They push for a a police state style enforcement of a bylaw that, well, may never have been made an actual law.  If this is the case, and the evidence he cites would bolster that, you may be owed money.  Here's his statement:

Statement of Kenneth M. O’Brien
Before the Southbridge Town Council
October 3, 2011

My name is Kenneth M. O’Brien and I reside at 858 North Woodstock Road.

It is my opinion that virtually all penalties and fees assessed against Southbridge residents and/or property owners regarding garbage and trash collection or recycling have been done so unlawfully since at least 2007.

As a result, such penalties and fees should be refunded to Southbridge residents and property owners along with appropriate interest from when the charges were paid.

I base come to this conclusion based upon provisions of Massachusetts State Law as well as our own Town bylaws as last revised in 2009.

Section 1.111 of our town bylaws provide in Section 1.111 that “Violations of any by-law or rule or regulation of any town officer, board or department, may be enforced by any police officer of the Town of Southbridge.”

It is under this provision that the recently approved additional police officer to enforce regulations regarding garbage collection as well as prior citations and collections have been enforced.

However, this bylaw is in violation of Mass. General Law. Specifically, Chapter 111, Sections 30 and 31B. Section 30 states explicitly, “Boards of health may appoint agents or directors of public health to act for them in cases of emergency or if they cannot conveniently assemble, and any such agent or director shall have all the authority which the board appointing him had; but he shall in each case within two days report his action to the board for its approval, and shall be directly responsible to it and under its direction and control. An agent or director of public health appointed to make sanitary inspections may make complaint of violations of any law, ordinance or by-law relative to the public health. “

Unless any police officer acts or was acting as an agent of the Board of Health, and under their exclusive jurisdiction rather than that of the Chief of Police, the officer lacked the authority to issue citations related to “rules and regulations for the control of the removal, transportation or disposal of garbage, offal or other offensive substances”. (MGL Chapter 111 Section 31B)

Let me now turn to the issue of fees and regulations regarding recycling.

Current town bylaws, last revised in 2009 according to the town website, provide in Section 10-201.2 that, “The provisions of any By-law applicable to recycling existing on the date this By-law is adopted shall remain applicable to recycling in the Town until regulations regarding recycling are adopted in accordance with this section”.
These bylaws were adopted on February 26, 2007.

Thus, until amended, prior bylaws were in effect.

The same section also provides that any amendment of the existing bylaw requires it be posted in a local newspaper for two weeks and followed by a public hearing. As in all cases of bylaws or bylaw amendments it is subject to three readings at successive town council meetings prior to adoption. Once adopted it must be posted in the offices of the DPW, the Board of Health and the town clerk as well as in each precinct.

Since 2007 there have been no notices or hearings related to amending this bylaw. In fact, it has not been amended since 2007. As such, by its own terms, the only enforceable recycling bylaws were those in effect prior to the adoption of the current bylaws.

Not only did the previously existing bylaws differ substantially in terms of what must be recycled, there were no fees or penalties associated with them (see attachment).

Further, the action of the Board of Health to mandate regulations, as regards recycling, does not apply as it does in the prior case.

Under Chapter 40, Section 8H of Mass. General Laws, the jurisdiction over a community’s recycling program may be delegated at the discretion of the legislative body. In numerous cases it is delegated to the DPW or a special recycling commission. Thus, without local legislative authority to do so, the Board of Health has no overriding authority to establish regulations on recycling beyond that provided in MGL Chapter 111, Section 31B.

As a result, the provisions of bylaw 10-201.2 take precedence. Throughout the existing bylaws specific authorization for the collection of fees is provided for, usually with explicit dollar amounts. None of these provisions exist in the current recycling bylaw. Without having been amended as specifically provided for there is no basis for the fees currently being assessed as regards such items as TV’s, computer monitors, etc. or for any other such charges.

While I do not necessarily disagree with the specifics of the current practices, any effort to enforce them has been done without any basis in law. Therefore, such assessments, fees and penalties have been unlawfully imposed and collected.

Thus, any citizen or property owner who has paid such assessments, fees or penalties is entitled to having them refunded along with appropriate interest since the time that they were collected.

If the town fails to do this voluntarily, then I believe that they could legitimately be subject to a class action suit on behalf of any citizens or property owners who have been so disadvantaged along with compensatory and punitive damages.

DOCUMENTATION


Cited Mass. General Laws


Chapter 40, Section 8H. A city, town, or district may establish, by approval of the local legislative body, a recycling program for the purpose of recycling any type of solid waste including but not limited to paper, glass, metal, rubber, plastics, used tires and compostable waste. The program may be established for groups of cities, towns, or districts upon agreement of all municipalities or districts in a joint program.
Any recycling program established pursuant to this section may require that all residents, schools and businesses in a city or town separate from their solid waste those recyclables designated by the local legislative body. In cities and towns in which solid waste is collected at the curbside, the recycling program may include curbside collection of such recyclables. In cities and towns in which residents, schools or businesses may take their solid waste to a municipal landfill or transfer station, the recycling program shall include provision for the separation and storage at such landfill or transfer station of the solid waste being disposed by such resident, schools or businesses, and may include collection of recyclables at the curbside.
Chapter 111, Section 30. Boards of health may appoint agents or directors of public health to act for them in cases of emergency or if they cannot conveniently assemble, and any such agent or director shall have all the authority which the board appointing him had; but he shall in each case within two days report his action to the board for its approval, and shall be directly responsible to it and under its direction and control. An agent or director of public health appointed to make sanitary inspections may make complaint of violations of any law, ordinance or by-law relative to the public health.
For purposes of this section, local legislative body shall mean the body of municipal government which is empowered to enact ordinances or by-laws and adopt an annual budget and other spending authorizations, whether styled as a city council, board of aldermen, town council, town meeting or by any other title. The department of environmental protection shall cooperate with local legislative bodies in the development of recycling programs, and no such program shall be established unless the municipality or district has first consulted with said department.
A city or town may appropriate money in any year to a recycling fund of which the treasurer shall be the custodian. He may deposit or invest the proceeds of said fund in savings banks, trust companies incorporated
Chapter 111, Section 31B. Boards of health shall, from time to time, make rules and regulations for the control of the removal, transportation or disposal of garbage, offal or other offensive substances. Whoever violates any provision of section thirty-one A, or of any rule or regulation made thereunder, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.

RECYCLING AND DISPOSAL GUIDELINES – Town of Southbridge

Leaf and Yard Waste:
Seasonal Weekly, Curbside Collection!
Drop Off:
-The drop off location is open
April through November at
Morse Farm Stand
(993 North Woodstock Road)
seven days from 9am-6pm.
-Curbside:
-Curbside collection of leaf and yard waste will run in the spring and in the fall.
- Leaf and yard waste may be in open-topped containers, paper yard waste bags or bundled in lengths not to exceed 4 feet, and diameter not to exceed 4 inches.
- NO PLASTIC BAGS – leaves will not be collected.
- NO Sand or Dirt in bags – makes bags too heavy.
-Materials will be collected on the same day as your trash and recycling pick-up.
Zero-Sort Recycling: Bi-weekly, Curbside Collection!
Place recyclables in your toter and put it curbside by 7 AM.
Items Accepted:
CARDBOARD: cereal boxes, pasta boxes, shoe boxes, milk/juice cartons, corrugated cardboard
PAPER: newspapers, magazines, catalogs, telephone/soft cover books, junk mail/envelopes (all types), paper (all colors, staples and paper clips are OK), brown paper bags
PLASTIC: beverage & food containers #1- #7 (milk jugs, bleach, detergent, shampoo bottles, soda, juice, water bottles, cottage cheese, margarine, yogurt, etc.), rigid plastics.
GLASS: bottles, jars (any color)
METAL: aluminum, tin, steel containers (foil/trays/pie plates)
Items NOT Accepted:
NO window glass, mirrors, light bulbs
NO dishes, pyrex, ceramics
NO foam packaging, Styrofoam, plastic bags
NO wax coated cardboard
NO recyclables containing food waste, paint or oils
NO hazardous material or universal waste
Household Hazardous Waste:
Quarterly Events!
Contact the Health Department for the date of the next event!
Items Accepted at No Charge:
Acids, Aerosols, Antifreeze, Batteries (auto and household), Cleaning Fluid, Degreasers,
Disinfectants, Drain Cleaners,
Dry Gas, Herbicides, Insect Repellents,
Lacquers, Lubricants, Mothballs,
Oil Based Paints,
Paint Removers, Paint Thinners,
Pesticides, Rat Poisons, Turpentine,
Varnish, Weed Killers, Dishwashers,
Washing Machines, Dryers,
Fluorescent Light tubes, Mercury containing products, Yard waste will be accepted (leaves, brush or shrubs).
Items Accepted For a Charge:
Small Appliances $20 each (refrigerators, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, or freezers). Propane tanks $10 each. Automobile Tires $10 each. Truck Tires $25 each. Computer monitors, including LCD’s and laptops $20 each. Televisions $20 each.
Items NOT Accepted:
Asbestos, PCBs, explosives or shock-sensitive materials, ammunition, compressed gas cylinders, radio-active wastes, pathological wastes, infectious waste, medicines, food or sanitary wastes, and latex paint.
Questions about acceptable material?
Call Casella at 888-532-2735
Trash: Weekly, Curbside Collection!
-Trash must be stored in watertight containers with tight-fitting covers- NO TRASH BAGS on the curbside!
-Containers should be no larger than 35 gallons
and no more than 50 pounds.
-Containers shall not remain on the curbside
for more than 24 hours before or after
the collection period.
Bulk Waste: Weekly, Curbside Collection!
Call 888-532-2735 or register at www.ThinkReduce.com, 48 hours prior to your weekly trash pick-up day.
2 YARD LIMIT
Bulk Items Accepted:
-Furniture and household items (bureaus,
chairs, desks, sofas, mattresses, box springs).
-Small “do it yourself” projects
-Lawn mowers and grills with gas and oil removed
-Appliances with FREON and doors removed
*Please call Interstate Refrigerant at 866-533-7366 to schedule an appointment for FREON removal. Casella cannot pick up any items containing FREON*
Items NOT Accepted:
-TVs, laptops, tires -Propane Tanks
-Wood stoves -Freon appliances
-Fluorescent bulbs -Engines/Motors


Current Town Bylaws

Section 1-111 Violations and Penalty - Municipal Infractions – Noncriminal Disposition
Whoever violates any provision of this Code of By-laws or of any regulation of any municipal officer, board or department, may be penalized by a non-criminal disposition as provided in MGL, Chapter 40, Section 21D. Each day on which any violation exists shall be deemed to be a separate offense. Violations of any by-law or
rule or regulation of any town officer, board or department, may be enforced by any police officer of the Town of Southbridge.


SECTION 10-200 MANDATORY RECYCLING
Section 10-201 Recyclable Materials
10-201.1 Declaration of Intent- There is hereby established a program for the mandatory separation of certain recyclable material from garbage or rubbish by the residents of the Town of Southbridge and the collection of these recyclables at the residents' curbside. The collection of separated recyclables shall be made periodically under the supervision of the Town Manager or the Town Manager’s designee.
10-201.2 Rules and Regulations – The collection of recyclable materials shall be made in conformity with standards and procedures established by the Board of Health to protect the public health, and in consultation with the Town Manager.
The Board of Health in consultation with the Town Manager shall prepare, and may, from time to time, amend or revise reasonable rules and regulations relative to the collection of recyclable materials to protect the public health. Recycling rules and regulations may prescribe the size, form, style and number of containers and the type of material to be collected, what types of materials may be mixed and what types of materials must be kept separated. A true copy of the rules and regulations, with their most recent amendments, shall be kept on file available for inspection in the office of the board of health, in the office of the director of public works and in the office of the town clerk.
Prior to promulgating such rules or regulations or any amendments or revisions thereto, the Board of Health shall first publish in a newspaper of general circulation in the town once in each of two successive weeks notice that a public hearing will be held concerning adopting, amending or revising such rules and regulations with information concerning
the scope of the proposed action to be taken sufficient for public understanding; the first publication of such notice to be not less than 14 days before the day of the hearing. The Board of Health shall provide the Town Manager and Director of Public Works with copies of such proposed amendments or revisions at least 14 days before the day of the hearing.
Following the promulgation of such rules and regulations or amendments or revisions thereto, they shall forthwith be filed with the office of the director of public works, the office of the board of health and the office of the town clerk. The Town Clerk shall have a copy of the same posted in each of the precincts of the Town.
Transitional Provision
The provisions of any By-law applicable to recycling existing on the date this By-law is adopted shall remain applicable to recycling in the Town until regulations regarding recycling are adopted in accordance with this section.

Prior Town Bylaws




























Friday, September 30, 2011

The Council Chair is Defeated; The Citizens Get Their Voice Back!

In case you missed it, here's the uncut version of the General Government Subcommittee meeting where the Chair of the Council was overruled by her majority.  Watch the double standards that are always a part of the majority council member's normal operating procedures. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

NPR and United Southbridge on same side on Chloramine Issue!

If NPR is reporting on it, you know it's a legit issue.  Let the Town Manager and the Town Council that he is leading by the nose drink from the Chloramine filled trough.  We'll go the other direction....with NPR.  Chloramine: The disinfectant alternative may have risks!