Open discussion thread: Ask questions, share opinions

by beth on December 4, 2018

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It’s time for another open thread.

What’s on your mind this week, Southborough?

For those of you new to the blog, the open discussion thread is your place to ask questions, sound off on town issues, or share information with other readers. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Ask questions about programs in town or the town itself
  • Post a note about things that you’re selling or giving away, or things that you want
  • Share notices about upcoming events (Southborough or otherwise)
  • Register your thoughts on town issues or news stories
  • Point out interesting or helpful resources

You can add comments to the thread throughout the week. Check back often to see new comments. (If you read the blog via email or RSS, you might want to check the site from time to time for new comments.)

To view past open discussion threads, click here.

(2010 image of Downy Woodpecker in Cordaville area of Southborough posted to flickr by JD)

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark Pietrewicz December 4, 2018 at 11:55 AM

Just a thank you for all the work you do on this site. I find it to be a great resource. I am sure it can be discouraging at times.

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2 beth December 4, 2018 at 1:28 PM

Thank you

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3 Rachel December 4, 2018 at 12:26 PM

I drove down Acre Bridge the other day, and noticed someone dumped their mattress and box. So frustrating! It’s on the Southborough side. Can we call DPW and have them grab it or do we call someone else?

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4 Allan Bezanson December 4, 2018 at 5:22 PM

High tide in Basin 5

Today, for the first time in many years, the spillway of the Sudbury Reservoir Dam in Fayville is awash. This forms the reservoir known as Basin 5, completed in 1898. Basin 5 winds its way through Southborough, Framingham and Marlborough all the way back to its termination at Deerfoot Road. The water is as high as it can get everywhere in town.
https://media.fotki.com/2v2EuANmsxJayUD.jpg

View today from the Nichols House
https://media.fotki.com/2v2EuANVixJayUD.jpg

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5 Matthew December 5, 2018 at 9:06 AM

Sump pumps are running on Wood Street about as far to the south as you can get in Southborough. The river is high but most of the water seems to be coming from the north.
I almost can’t wait for the foundations and septic to go in at Caine’s Crossing at the corner of Southville and Parkerville. 11 units displacing ground water surrounded by houses that already get water in their basements.

Who pays for the damages when my basement floods? Is it the DPW, Selectmen, or ZBA?😂 – is this the right emoticon?

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6 arborist December 5, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Matthew, I would say the board of health would be responsible, they approved the septic system in that very low and wet area . They (contractor) was filling in the little pond they created from removing dirt from the site. when was the perc test performed? bet it was during a drought.

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7 Be Best December 5, 2018 at 3:59 PM

Physically and verbally threatening a member of the public as Dan Kolenda did at last nights Selectman’s meeting is not acceptable. While the content presented by an individual during public comment may have been difficult and the presentation direct, they were done within the boards comment policy, and provided no justification for Mr Kolenda’s behavior. His physically threatening actions, saying he was going to call law enforcement for disagreeable comments and name calling are all far out of line for a public official. Calling for a recess of a public meeting, so recording would stop so he could threaten someone is a direct anger management issue that can not be tolerated. He violates all that he claims to stand for with regards to respectful behavior. This is not the first time he has been disrespectful either, for he has done the same to other members of the public and to town officials. Repeating that you are a volunteer as if that is an excuse for inadequacies in performing the responsibilities of your position is not a good excuse. For the sake of the town and its integrity, he should step down.

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8 beth December 5, 2018 at 6:33 PM

I wasn’t aware of the incident. I watched the tape and it appears you are referring to his reaction to resident Louise Barron stating that the board broke open meeting law. (That begins here.)

Mr. Kolenda referred to her comment as slandering public officials. She rebutted that it wasn’t slander. He responded that he was cutting off public comment. She returned, “Look, you need to stop being a Hitler! You’re a Hitler!” as he called for a recess.

At that point the volume was muted but before the video cut away, it did capture his body language for about 10 seconds when he rose and addressed Ms. Barron. Readers can watch for themselves here.

It appears the board never returned to public session.

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9 Townie December 6, 2018 at 9:12 AM

Louise Barron called him a Hitler! She’s the one that should be apologizing. She is constantly berating the BOS, other town boards, and committees for whatever decision they make that she does not believe in. A nuisance.

If someone called me something as offensive as what she did, you better prepared for the reaction. I don’t blame him one bit for giving it right back. She deserved it.

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10 Naughtius Maximus December 7, 2018 at 3:46 PM

Again, upon review of the tape, it is Mr. Kolenda clearly threw the first punch by falsely accusing the commenter of “slander” first, his favorite go-to tactic when he wants to shut down public comment, especially opposing opinion. In this instance, the initial commentary was on overspending and the dire budget situation, asking about the difference between town manager and town administrator, and concern over a repeated pattern of breaking State Law, i.e. Open Meeting Law Violations, a matter of public record. THAT is when Kolenda wrongly whips out the “slander” card. The commenter was saying nothing that wasn’t opinion and matters of public record. The commenter pushed back and used the wrong word probably out of shock at the false accusation of so-called “slander.

On the other hand, Mr. Kolenda clearly violated the Town’s Code of Conduct. His response, caught on camera, was scarily threatening and shockingly inappropriate.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kolenda does not embrace public comment. (The current Chair ran a campaign based on the slogan “Let Me Be Your Voice,” what a difference.) However, he should. He falsely labels opposing opinion as “slander.” Here are the controversial issues:

• BoS has violated state law under his chairmanship; it is public record. In 2018 alone, there have been 2 OML violations against the BOS and 1 against the ZBA (see them here) Hit control click on the previous link to view the Attorney General’s Determination page.

• Open Meeting Law was violated (multiple times for the town, including the ZBA, the BOS’s appointees). Mr. Kolenda falls back on the “only a volunteer” argument, while simultaneously arguing he has been on the board for six years. It takes six years (??) to read and follow state law, Open Meeting Law? To keep and approve accurate minutes, all it takes is to follow the pattern of reaching back to the last minutes done and after checking for accuracy, approving them and releasing them to the public. He’s an attorney. It should not take him or any other person (or lawyer) sitting on this Board six years to read, understand and follow State Law.

• Article 1 (Special Town Meeting Vote to re-affirm the ZBA Quorum Requirement) – Allegedly, the Town Administrator, Town Counsel and BoS appear to have been working outside of the public forum to stall and delay this article with AG. Their non-public efforts (you would not know unless you did a public records request) on this very public town business have been 100% in opposition to the Town Meeting vote. (This type of conduct is prohibited in many municipalities by bylaw.) Article 1 was overwhelmingly approved by the voters.

• The Town Budget – At the December 4th meeting, the BoS wrestles between 5%, 6%, and 7% (or 10%, the original proposed increase), calling for 6.5% to 7.0% at the December 4th meeting. All voters should look at the BoS package, which summarizes the budget. https://www.southboroughtown.com/board-selectmen/events/66803

Mr. Kolenda calls for full funding of all Recreation projects, but the budget is far from balanced. This might(??) include including the turfing of a water detention basin (used as a field, yes, you read correctly, a water detention basin for an apartment complex, constructed to take excess rain / flood water). Notably, the DPW / Roads budget is slashed from $450k to $250-ish range, less than the cost to turf the water detention basin ($267,400). Sorry, my humble opinion, but doesn’t the budget need to balance? And shouldn’t road safety be a priority? Where is the common sense in all of this?

The last attempt to get this funding was via an “off budget” presentation by Rec person, Kristen LaVault, (Kallendar Field) at the last Special Town Meeting. In my opinion, the “presentation” was a haranguing whine-fest (should have been wine-fest to dull the pain of listening to it), that was rejected by other BoS members for the brazen “off budget” attempt and overwhelmingly rejected by the voters.

http://www.mysouthborough.com/2018/04/24/recreation-update-kallander-field-at-special-town-meeting-plus-skate-park-survey-results/

• Fayville Hall – How a taxpayer owned asset that is appraised by the Town’s own outside appraiser for ½ million (and valued by the Town itself, via the Town assessor’s opinion for roughly the same) is sold for $20k is the question of the day. Beth posted an article here:
http://www.mysouthborough.com/2018/11/20/swl-selectmen-approve-21k-bid-to-buy-and-restore-fayville-hall/
Just my humble opinion, but the town vote was to sell it, not give it away. And they could have at least put up a “For Sale” sign.

Whatever you do, don’t ask any questions about the budget or violations of State Law or else this could happen to you:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYV-qYeWPkk

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11 Publius December 6, 2018 at 7:35 AM

Why would anyone think it OK to call someone Hitler under these circumstances? this is shameful. Actually it is worse. And why would any rationale person serve the town under these circumstances ? and for such a meager allowance. Barron needs to apologize in a open video taped meeting. Possibly this forum as well.

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12 Ghost of Public Discourse December 6, 2018 at 8:57 AM

Plenty of blame to go around. Louise Baron’s vitriol here and in other public forums is counterproductive and calling someone Hitler is beyond the pale of acceptable behavior and she should publicly apologize. Also, I don’t blame Kolenda for losing it at that comment, but as someone who is held to a higher standard by virtue of his position should be able to react appropriately and should have taken the higher ground. I don’t know what exactly was said after mic was cut, but I imagine an apology is needed there as well.

It’s a shame what has become of public discourse.

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13 SB Resident December 6, 2018 at 10:42 AM

Really she was calling him a dictator, but chose the word Hitler to cause more agitation which clearly worked. A person of Mr. Kolenda’s credentials should be way above reacting in a situation like that and shows a lot about his character. I would never condone Ms Barron’s behavior, but she is who she is and is clearly out there with it unlike Mr. Kolenda who goes to recess so he can hide his true colors. It’s pretty ironic that he would do something of that nature in response to accusations of violating open meeting law.

I have considered getting involved in public service and don’t. It is the Dan Kolenda’s not the Ms Baron’s of the world that prevent me from serving.

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14 Naughtius Maximus December 6, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Let’s review the tape: Mr. Kolenda clearly threw the first punch by falsely accusing the commenter of “slander” first, his favorite go-to tactic when he wants to shut down public comment, especially opposing opinion.

In this instance, the initial commentary was on overspending and the dire budget situation, asking about the difference between town manager and town administrator, and concern over a repeated pattern of breaking State Law, i.e. Open Meeting Law Violations, a matter of public record. THAT is when Kolenda wrongly whips out the “slander” card.

Ironically, it is he who slandered the commenter, because a key element of slander is that the comment must be false and his comment was indeed false. The commenter was saying nothing that wasn’t opinion and matters of public record.

The commenter did push back. Did not use the right word probably due to the shear shock and sudden inappropriateness of the “slander” accusation for merely asking questions during “Public Comment” section. His behavior is best described as inappropriate “bullying” and scarily threatening. I was watching this from home and was actually frightened for the resident when he stood up and started his threatening rant.

This is wildly inappropriate threatening body language, screaming at the resident (you are “disgusting” — say what??!!) and thrusting his hand and finger at the resident. Clear violation of the town’s Code of Conduct Policy for the BoS.

Regardless, this is the second time (!!) he has attacked senior members of the public (the last one resulting in a report to the Attorney General, decision pending?) and calls on the police (??!!) , completely twisting the story based on the report to the AGO (take a read, Beth posted it here somewhere).

All of this is a situation being blown of proportion and being taken too seriously. How about taking it all down a notch with a little humor?? Here is a tape of the BOS public comment section from the previous meeting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx_G2a2hL6U

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15 Naughtius Maximus December 6, 2018 at 4:09 PM

Here is what happened to the last commenter during the last BOS Public Comment section who had questions about overspending and the dire budget situation. Setting the budget / the budget process is depicted at the beginning of the tape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9PY_3E3h2c

PS — If you don’t have a sense of humor, don’t bother watching.

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16 southsider December 6, 2018 at 10:52 AM

I just listened to the BOS budget discussion from earlier this week.
They’re discussing average annual tax bill hikes of $600- $700 more than we’re paying today with no relief in sight for at least a few years!
I’m very appreciative of the services we all receive from the Town and am not keen on any reductions to maintain tax levels but wonder why the BOS isn’t spending some energy discussing new revenue sources.
If there’s ever a time to re-trigger a discussion about split tax rates, it seems like that time is NOW!

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