Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pool report, part 5 - Strategy for the study

- baseline analysis of our bubble emphasizing energy and seasonal operating costs
- contact vendors of various enclosures
- “ballpark” costs, initial and operating
- energy consumption
- determine air handling requirements
- report on available options

Dave Gavin
Energy Commission

Kunde on NG capacity on South Main

During last week's Council meeting, there was some discussion about the availability of natural gas (NG) on South Main Street (particularly in relation to the pool and CHS). The discussion touched on a two year old study that was conducted by Pan American Power to consider NG-powered microturbines. Working very close to this study was town resident, Bill Kunde. Here is his comment from another thread:

The comment about the gas supply is incorrect. When Pan American Power did their study and proposal two years ago they worked with Yankee Gas in particular about the gas supply issue. At that time they proposed to install microturbines for the high school and one for the pool. According to Yankee Gas the gas supply and pressure was more than sufficient. The problem came in when the plan to install fuel cells at the pool and high school was brought forward. With the 5 or 6 fuel cells there was not enough gas supply or pressure. Please do not get the two proposals mixed up and the facts need to be corrected. If you don't you will make another incorrect decision.

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission liaison

Waterbury's indoor water park

Waterbury's hotel-of-a-million-names (the one next to Costco) is scheduled to complete CTs first indoor water park (WRA, by Mark Silvestrini) by mid-October.

Tim White

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Council members on the pool

You know how I feel about the pool... it wastes too much energy, the taxpayer subsidies are excessive and, just recently, I learned it's driving up the cost of education (By using all the natural gas available to it, it eliminates natural gas as a heating fuel option for CHS. In turn, the high school must switch its dual fuel heating system to oil at an unnecessarily high cost.). My solution is to either make it a summer facility or move forward with a permanent structure. But you know my thoughts.

So what are the thoughts of other Council members?

Here are a few comments from the past six months:







Tim White

Pool report, part 4 - What are our goals?

- Be ready to make informed decision
- reduce energy consumption/cost
- be “green”
- lower lifecycle operational cost
- improve aesthetics and ambiance
- maintain a year round facility


(some may be mutually exclusive)

Dave Gavin
Energy Commission

Friday, March 28, 2008

Scaring Cheshire

We had the second public hearing on the budget last night. I appreciated the comments from residents, particularly this exchange between BOE member Peter Massey and resident Li Feng:

As mentioned in Luther Turmelle's piece in the NHR

Peter Massey, chairman of the school board’s Finance Committee, said cuts that deep would be “catastrophic” to the school system. “If you go to $1 million, there will be programs cuts and layoffs,” Massey said.
But while sitting at home, watching the meeting on TV... Mr. Feng felt compelled to respond to Peter's comments. In fact, he felt so strongly, you'll even see him literally running to the lecturn to speak... to say that "scaring" people is wrong.



FWIW... I agree with Mr. Feng.

Tim White

Another STEAP grant

State Rep. Al Adinolfi just announced that Cheshire will be receiving $400,000 for West Main Street improvements. This is in addition to the $500,000 already alotted via the Small Town Economic Assistance Program.

Tim White

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A grievance? Never!

According to the WRA:

Casual dress privileges on Fridays have been restored to the police department's administrative lieutenant and training officer, under a settlement between the Cheshire Police Union and the town last week. (by Jodie Mozdzer)

Question for you: With regard to the relationship between the Town's upper management and all other town staff...


Is this an indication of a bigger rift?
Yes, but the rubberstampers ignore it
No, you're just mean-spirited!
Doesn't matter. Altieri said the Council does not need to know*
pollcode.com free polls

* See meeting minutes here.

"These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along."

- Obi-Wan Kenobi

But on a serious note... a suggestion for all bloggers... if you happen to be friends with anyone who works for the town and your friend trusts you... ask them about the relationship between town staff (him/her) and upper management. Unlike Matt Altieri apparently believes, I think it is the responsibility of Council members to have a basic grasp on employee morale.

And finally... for the record, this is precisely the type of article of which the Council should be made aware before it hits the headlines, IMO. And yes, for four years I've been asking to be given a head's up before I learn of things in the newspapers... but I get nowhere. Thankfully, I was ahead of the curve on this one... too bad for the town employees that the rubberstampers are so far behind the curve... and, even worse, are giving the impression that they're comfortable staying there.

Tim White

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nania visits GOP Town Committee

The Republican Town Committee met tonight. The highlight for me was hearing from former state Rep. Tony Nania. He's running for the CT-5 GOP nomination against Dave Cappiello... one of them will almost certainly be facing Chris Murphy in the fall. I don't recall any real specifics, but he did seem to get a positive response when discussing the 2nd amendment. Beyond that, I asked about my pet peeve... the unfunded long-term liabilities... which btw, made the cover of today's CT Post under the headline "Medicare, Social Security in peril" (AP, by Martin Crutsinger).

The trustees, issuing their once-a-year analysis, said the resources in the Social Security trust fund will be depleted by 2041. The reserves in the Medicare trust fund that pays hospital benefits were projected to be wiped out by 2019.

Both those dates were the same as in last year's report. But the trustees warned that financial pressures will begin much sooner when the programs begin paying out more in benefits each year than they collect in payroll taxes. For Medicare, that threshold is projected to be reached this year and for Social Security it is projected to occur in 2017.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, one of the trustees, warned of a fiscal train wreck unless something is done.

"Without change, rising costs will drive government spending to unprecedented levels, consume nearly all projected federal revenues and threaten America's future prosperity," Paulson told a news conference....


For what it's worth, addressing Social Security is one issue where I give great credit to President Bush. I have a lot of disagreements with him, but at least he pushed the envelope on this to the point that he got even Teddy Kennedy to acknowledge it has solvency issues. And IMO, that was a major accomplishment.

Anyway, about Tony Nania... he seemed like an intelligent guy who is sincerely interested in the job.

Tim White

UPDATE: Dave Cappiello's Communications Director, Adam Bauer, emailed me with the SOTS link that provides 2008 election dates, including the 2008 primary election date: August 12.

Flip flop or rubberstamp?

(The question's about the Council majority, not the TM)

And for a visual reference to understand the discussion about why the rail trail is good for the majority now, but wasn't good two years ago (when they were coincidentally in the minority):


And for a bit more context on the Southington component, here's a link to Monday's MRJ rail trail article that led into yesterday's MRJ article on the trail.

By the way, I have to give huge props to the TM here. Despite the majority's valiant attempts at rubberstamping the Town Manager's earmark request for the linear trail, the TM strongly (and correctly) resisted taking direction from fewer than five Council members. I disagreed with the TM on requesting this earmark, but he was absolutely correct in resisting this not-so-uncommon display of the rubberstamp.

Tim White

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sox opening day?

Did the Sox have their season opener today? The WRA seems to report that their Japan games count, but the Sox homepage still has last year's stats. If it were a real game, they usually update right away to being "1-0."

Tim White

Avoiding the issue

There's a movement afoot to increase pool fees (NHR, by Luther Turmelle). I'm not sure whether I'll support a fee increase or not. To me, it just seems like it's missing the whole point: the bubble and the energy costs.

From the article:

under the proposed 2008-09 town budget, the operating subsidy the pool gets from the Parks and Recreation Department budget is increasing from $416,000 to $435,226.

Tim White

Thursday's public hearing on the budget

And don't forget... there's a public hearing on the budget on Thursday night at 7:30pm in Town Hall. I didn't attend tonight's budget meeting, but already got an update from Tom Ruocco. He said there are two budget proposals on the table. A Dem proposal increasing spending by 4.25% and a GOP proposal increasing spending by 3.0%... I told Tom that I think we can reduce spending further, but I'm not yet done with my budget analysis.

Regardless, I'll let you all know what I'm thinking, as soon as I'm done with it.

Tim White, CPA

W/S project in Dedham

From the Boston Globe, by Thomas C. Palmer, Jr.:

Despite difficulties in lending markets, the developers of a planned Dedham shopping center with as many as 80 stores and restaurants have secured construction financing and are set to break ground next week....

"People have been trying to build better retail in this area for 20 years," said Dick Marks, a partner in WS Development of Newton, one of the developers, which started planning four years ago.

WS Development and partner National Amusements of Dedham have a loan of almost $200 million from Sovereign Bank to finance the 675,000-square-foot project.


There's lots more to read further into the article. So you may want to click on the above link.

Tim White

h/t to LT !

Southington rail trail extension

The Southington Town Council voted to apply for $2.5million dollars in state grant money for to extend the linear trail from Plantsville to the Cheshire line (MRJ, by Leslie Hutchison)

Tim White

Public hearing on bgt on Thursday

If you'd like your voice to be heard, please attend the public hearing on Thursday (7:30pm at Town Hall) and speak your mind. Based on comments tonight, it appears the majority is set to increase taxes by 0.63 mills this year. That would be a 4.25% spending increase... including probably both a full-time custodian for the pool and $14,000 for another strategic plan... among other gems.

Please come out and share your thoughts with the Council.

Tim White

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pool report, part 3 - What are our options?

1) Summer Operations Only
2) Replace with:

a) improved air-supported bubble
b) “conventional” Butler-type building*
c) “green house” with retractable panels*
d) transparent thin film, wire/air supported
e) non-conventional, sky-lighted and insulated*


*will require dehumidification

Dave Gavin
Energy Commission

Gulf of Tonkin: my hero

The words may seem simple enough, but taken in context... hands down, these are the most powerful words I've ever heard spoken by someone I know: Can any of you guess: described by the New Haven Register as the "Most Naive Man," who is this 28-year-old?

And for those of you who don't recognize the footage (it's older than me and I'm 35), it's the 1968 Emile de Antonio documentary... In the Year of the Pig. It's 1 hour 45 minutes long and you can order it here.

Tim White

Sunday, March 23, 2008

EC Gavin's pool report, part 2

What some experts say:

“In summary, air-supported structures should perhaps be thought of as affordable short-term solutions for pools simply aiming to stay open through the winter but may not be an ideal option for aquatics facilities looking to develop robust, year-round programming.”

- Dawn Klingensmith, Recreation Management Magazine

Initial Council discussion on web video

Back to the topic of uploading Council/PZC meetings to the web... here's the first Council discussion (Aug 14, 2007) in which the concept was more than simply mentioned in passing:And here's the post of the draft motion on Transparency and Accountability in Local Government.

Tim White

A Blessed and Happy Easter

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Deadlines and dollars

Quinnipiac is offering a talk on a topic I'd love to discuss:

Assistant professor of journalism Karin Schwanbeck will screen her one-hour documentary "Deadlines and Dollars" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, in the Mancheski Executive Seminar Room in the Lender School of Business Center.

The free event is open to the public...

The documentary offers a critical examination of local TV news and how story coverage is affected more often by profit and efficiency rather than by meaningful stories with a direct impact on viewers' lives...

A question-and-answer session follows the screening.


This reminds of another story I hadn't mentioned... the NHR cost-cutting measures that included laying off Greg Hladky, their capital bureau chief. IMO, Hladky was a real asset to the NHR and to the entire state due to his investigative reporting.

Tim White

Alternatives to the bubble

At some recent Council meetings, I've been advocating the view of the Energy Commission and, what I believe is, the view of much of Cheshire... the pool bubble wastes too much energy and money. And if America is serious about conserving energy (Clinton, McCain and Obama all seem to talk about it), then we're going to have to take steps at the local level... not just at the federal level.

So in an effort to move past the bubble... on the way home from work yesterday (exit 56 on the Merritt), I finally stopped to see the Milford YMCA. The Milford Y has gotten some attention here in Cheshire due to their former use of a "bubble" for their pool... a bubble which was eventually replaced with a permanent structure designed and built by OpenAire of Canada. (For a view of the OpenAire structure in Milford, see here.)

But that's been described as the "Cadillac" of permanent structures for pools. And I certainly am not advocating Cheshire move in that direction. I'm just offering it as part of a broader dialogue.

Anyway, I was writing a post on the pool, then realized a much better approach to this would be to simply use the report prepared by Energy Commissioner Dave Gavin... but I'm going to break it down into pieces, starting here:

What's wrong with the bubble?

- large surface area and volume, low R value <2
- air-supported, requires lots of hot air
- more than 20% escapes as “leaks”
- inefficient blower exchanges the equivalent of 2 Cheshire colonial houses of hot air per minute
- high humidity leads to corrosion and fouling problems
- aesthetics and ambiance
- significantly lower non-summer attendance
- $40k (up and down) and 2 weeks downtime per year


So that's the first two pages of Dave's report. I'll continue providing more of it over the next week or two... and based on my conversation with Matt Hall a few days ago and with Dave Gavin today... I have hope that we will be able to move forward with this... because, while I'm comfortable making it a summer-only facility, others aren't... and I don't want to get to the point when we can't use the bubble and we still haven't even considered any alternatives. That really would be the equivalent of sticking our heads in the sand. And that would be unacceptable.

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission liaison

Open forum 3/22

I just got another oil bill: $3.94/gallon x 155 gallons = $610.94!!! And I don't even turn my heat up above 58F anymore! On the bright side though, I use Standard Oil. So at least I'm still getting oil. Nonetheless, the cost of oil is outrageous. And it's hitting everywhere.

I was buying some Easter flowers from Zentek's today and they're having to incorporate the cost of gas in their flowers now. And what's even worse, IMO... who thinks the price of gas is going to drop? Not a chance. It's only going to get worse.

I know the efficiency of ethanol doesn't yet make sense for widespread use, but it would be nice to see some more biodiesel available. By most accounts I've heard, biodiesel does make sense.

And for those of you who are interested in learning more about biodiesel (or any bioenergy) and the related costs and benefits, I learned of the bioenergy wiki at the renewable energy conference that I recently attended.

In other items of interest, according to the NHR:

"Police Chief Michael Cruess was hospitalized overnight Thursday, a department spokesman said Friday" (by Luther Turmelle).

Ned Bowman resigned from CT Innovations (by Luther Turmelle). Personally, I think it's a loss. CT Innovations has had major management problems for years and from what I could tell, Ned was making real progress.

And not from the NHR... just my own story... I saw Chris Murphy at Stop n Shop this afternoon. He had a line of people waiting to speak with him, so I didn't wait around. But I did speak to one of his staff and asked him to remind Chris about my #1 concern... addressing the solvency of the entitlement programs and America's disastrous fiscal policy. I just don't see how America can continue this charade of deficit spending in perpetuity. At some point, China is going to ask for reimbursement. Then what will we do?

Tim White

Friday, March 21, 2008

MRJ on web video

Today, the MRJ ran an article on the possibility of adding meeting video to the town website. The article's not online, but I am confused about one of the concerns being raised.

I've been told the Ordinance Review Committee is going to review this for privacy concerns. Frankly, I have no idea why that's an issue. I mean... how is it ok for the Town to videotape people and broadcast their words and images on the TV, but not on the internet? But perhaps more analogous... CT-N is available "on demand" over the tubes. And CSpan is available on the web. But we need to study this? Seems like overkill to me.

As Phil Knight likes to say, "just do it!"

Tim White

Charter Oak Plan moves along

As reported by CTNewsJunkie:

The Human Services Committee made some changes to a bill initially intended to delay Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s Charter Oak Health Plan for uninsured adults...

Rep. Al Adinolfi, R-Cheshire, said the RFP for the Charter Oak Plan is already out to bid. Bids are expected back March 28. He said passing the bill is “just a waste of time.” He compared it to building a house, “if you keep making changes, it never gets built.”
(by Christine Stuart)

Tim White

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Focusing on the important stuff

While some Nutmeggers may feel energy, healthcare, education et al are the "important stuff," our beloved legislature knows better. They're focused on the things that truly matter, such as banning candy in school and apologizing for witchhunts (AP).

I wish we could add back a lever in the voting booth... not a party lever, per se. I just want one lever... "throw them all out!"

Tim White

15 mos for trash hauler

Cheshire's trash hauler finally got his day in court. And with it, he got a prison term of 15 months. (NHR, by Luther Turmelle)

Tim White

TMs proposed staff increases

Here are the TMs proposed increases in staff:Personally, I'm concerned about an increasingly tough economy... one in which we'll almost certainly see less funding from the state. So I have to wonder about all these increases in staff.

As for the PD... FBI guidance is used. If I recall correctly, they recommend 2.1 officers for every 1,000 residents. So depending on whether you include the prison (which does impact the police) you can count 26,000 or 29,000 residents in town. Either way, the town's 48 sworn officers (4 mgt & 44 union) are fewer in number than the 55 to 62 as recommended by the FBI. As for whether adding two officers would reduce overtime costs, my understanding is that it would not. However, it would free up the "specialty" officers to perform their specialty roles. I think an example of a specialty role is a detective.

Tim White

Stop n shop Q&A

If you have questions for the Congressional candidates... next up... Chris Murphy (D) will be at Stop n Shop this Saturday, March 22 from noon to 2pm.

And about Murphy's office... while perusing the Courant's Capitol Watch, I stumbled across a link to Politico.com. It basically says that Chris Murphy has the best dressed Congressional office (by Helena Andrews). Ridiculous and irrelevant? Yes. But I found it amusing anyway.


Tim White

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Budget mtg 3/19

Tonight's budget meeting kicked off with the Fire Department. As with all departments, the Department head proposed his/her budget to the TM... before the TM proposed his budget to the Council. In Jack's case, the budget proposal is going from a $311,000 current year budget to a TM recommended $351,000 for next year. The Chief requested a staffing increase from 5.14FTEs to 7.28FTEs, but the TM cut that back to 6.14FTEs. The increase of one person (1 full time equivalent) is for a:

Deputy Fire Marshall / Safety & Training Officer

I told the Chief my biggest concern is not cost when it comes to this request. My concern is a gradual transition from volunteers to paid staff... and the impact that would have on morale within the department.

Consider... one day you and all your friends show up to wash the truck for free... then the next day, you and all your friends show up to wash the truck for free... and at the same time, you've got some guy getting paid to do it.

How would you feel as a volunteer? I know I'd be pretty annoyed.

Anyway, the Chief gave probably the best answer possible. He said it falls back on him... and that he let's his department know that pay is irrelevant by washing windows and doing everything himself. And I said that's probably the best way to motivate people... show people that you'll do anything that you ask of them.

Reminds me of when I was in high school and I went to work for John Romanik. I was a bit of a goof off... and he saw it... and he had me cleaning toilets in no time... and he showed me what he wanted done, by doing it himself... and for those of you who don't know him... John is a fairly successful businessman... but he's not above anything or anyone... and for me... that was a great motivation. So I really appreciated Jack's approach to working with so many volunteers... he won't ask anyone to do anything that he won't do himself. I think that's important.

Next up was the schools... I'm not even going there right now. Way too much to discuss.

Then came the Town Attorney. The fees are proposed to increase with the budget going from $251,000 to $317,000. Included in that are fees for Charter revision.

Then the TMs office... like the schools, I think this particular department merits some additional analysis... maybe I'll get to it this weekend.

Finally, the Town Council budget was discussed. It's proposed budget is increasing from $42,000 to $59,000. That includes $8,500 for advertising (legal notices), $16,000 for the Clerk of the Council (the lady who takes the minutes), $13,000 for the video services and my favorite... $16,000 for consultants! That's broken down into two items:

1) a new strategic plan!
2) videostreaming.

First on the strategic plan... since I expect The Rubberstampers to be out in force on this one this year, I offer the same simple comment that I offered last year... "How does this benefit the taxpayers?" Sorry, but it seems to me that if we (as a body) do our job well, then we don't need to pay someone a bunch of money for a strategic plan. For instance, if there was a major problem in town... say... discontent among town employees... I think it would be incumbent on Council members to pick up on that... and to take action. Alternatively, if we didn't take action... well then the voters would show us the door... but I don't think we need to spend $14,000 to figure out what's right or wrong in town. I think we each just need to pay attention. And if we don't pay attention... well, we've probably outgrown our welcome and "need to go." It happens.

Finally, we got to videostreaming! Apparently there was some miscommunication last night. It's not that videostreaming is impossible... it's just that live videostreaming is impossible... which is fine with me. I think offering Council meetings on the web would be great... but I don't see the need for realtime feeds at this point. As long as we can get the Council meetings up on the web within a few days, I think that'd be great. Plus, staff wants to index the meetings in some manner. And that'd also be really useful. That way people could go directly to the issue of concern to them. As for costs related to videostreaming... I have no idea. I've spent a total of $40 for the downloadable iSofter Ripper software. And with that, it was off to the races... haven't spent a penny since.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'm going to bed.

Tim White

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Open forum 3/18

Tonight, we had the first of two public hearings on the budget. It wasn't the biggest crowd I've ever seen, but a few people did attend and speak. Personally, I appreciated the people who were calling for no tax increase this year... particularly with market uncertainty, rising food prices and... talk of $4 gas by Memorial Day... I think avoiding a tax increase is a worthwhile goal.

One thing I forgot to mention last night... about the Youth & Social Services budget... they're planning on launching some sort of student outreach effort. It'll be done via web-based video. I'm not sure if they'll be using YouTube or Google or Daily Motion, etc. But I do know that they won't be using either the school website or the town website... because as I found out last night... the town website is incapable of providing you with video.

Yes. You heard that right. The town website can't handle video. Of course, brought to you by blogger... my freebie website... is quite capable of handling video, but... ummm... well... I guess it'll be impossible for the town to ever provide you with Council/PZC meetings over the web. Sure... the town could create it's own blog at no cost... and link the town website to the blog at no cost... and have staff spend ten minutes uploading each Council meeting to Google Video, but... ummm... well... who among you believes this rubberstamp majority is willing to direct staff to do that?

Anyway, back to my point... I appreciate the initiative being taken by the Youth & Social Services department in trying to contact kids and provide them with an outlet... I know that as soon as I reached Dodd, and for several years thereafter... until either any of my friends or I could drive/work... I was often looking for something to do... some of it was afterschool sports, but especially in summer I had time on my hands and I think a lot of these efforts could have a real benefit... I recall always having fun at the "youth center dances."

Finally, as an update to my previous post on Town-owned vehicles, here's an update for the PD:
Tim White

Alcohol awareness week

Cheshire Cares, a service of the Human Services Committee, has been updated for:

Alcohol Awareness Week
April 21-25, 2008

Tim White

Monday, March 17, 2008

Kleist on gas use

Here's Cindy Kleist following up on the town's gas use policy: Tim White

Budget mtg 3/17

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

The budget meeting kicked off with the Youth & Social Services Dept. With 11 ee's (6.52FTE), their proposed budget increases from $257,000 to $275,000.

Then the Police Dept presented their budget. Unsurprisingly I suppose, there was a lot of discussion about town-owned vehicles and the gas use policy governing the vehicles... to which the Chief explained that it's against dept policy for vehicles to leave the state, except on authorized town business. I personally found that reassuring. Regardless, I think we should probably simplify things and put GPS on all town owned vehicles... not just the ones that dept heads feel would benefit from GPS, as staff wrongly suggested.

I think what jumped out at me most in the PD budget though was this:I asked if it was a typo. It wasn't. There was some reason given about it being a reminder of sorts, but... I'm still scratching my head... wondering... could something like this, even inadvertently, have a deleterious effect on employee morale?

As for the overall PD budget... the current year is $3,819,000 with estimated expenditures at $3,669,000. And the TMs proposed budget is $4,003,000... it includes two new sworn officers (currently 48 sworn officers, 44 in the union & four in mgt). And of the two sworn officers, one position is funded for the full year (July 1 2008 - June 30, 2009) and one is funded for six months (starting on Jan 1, 2009).

Finally, the library budget was presented. Their current year budget (and estimated expenditures) is $1,101,000. The TMs proposed budget for next year is $1,164,000. My main question was about the future plans of the "VHS videotape" room upstairs... to which I got an earful about thoughts on a serious revamping of the library, including some new construction. Yikes. That could get expensive, but... I didn't press for any details tonight.

I think the most surprising comments of the night came during this discussion. A resident started asking for the library's winter Sunday hours to be extended into December. And Mike Ecke rebuked the request... basically saying "enough is enough, we can't do everything" (my words, not his) I have to admit... I was pretty impressed... now if he would just say that to the TM for once.... oh well... I'll take what I can get.

Your thoughts?

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pool bubble alternative discussion

For those of you who missed the discussion, here is the motion that I made:

Whereas, (in relation to the Cheshire Community Pool) the Cheshire Town Council wants to save money, conserve energy, improve air quality and protect the existing building;

Therefore, be it resolved, the Town Council directs the Town Manager to prepare and issue
a request for information (RFI) for alternatives to the bubble; and

Be it resolved, the Town Council directs the Town Manager to include alternative financing options (for example,
performance contracts) for the bubble alternatives in the RFI; and

Be it resolved, the Town Council directs the Town Manager to complete this RFI by May 31, 2009, so that the information may be used in the first year of the 2009/2010 Annual Capital Expenditure Budget.


And here is the discussion that ensued:

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission liaison

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Gulf of Tonkin X: Coverup or conspiracy, part 4

I think the words of Senator Fulbright best sum up the Gulf of Tonkin situation. When I informed him, for his possible interest, that I'd finally solved the mystery of my missing sonarman, he wrote to me from his law office, "The President and the Secretary of Defense used the alleged attack to pressure the Congress to give them the authority they sought, to give legitimacy to actions which were an evasion of the Constitution's provision on declaring war. They probably knew the attack was misrepresented to the Congress and the public, but it is difficult to prove. It was a very sad and tragic mistake by the President and did great harm to the country and the President."

That just about says it all.

But not quite. In October 2005, the New York Times published a story about an historian at the National Security Agency who reviewed the long-secret Gulf of Tonkin documents intercepted by the NSA and concluded that the agency’s intelligence officers “deliberately skewed” the evidence passed on to policy makers and the public to falsely suggest that North Vietnamese ships had attacked the Maddox and Turner Joy on August 4.

The NSA is based at Fort Meade, Maryland. It intercepts foreign communications, such as phone calls, e-mail and faxes, and is charged with protecting the security of American government communications. It is the largest American intelligence agency, with more than 30,000 employees, including codebreakers, computer experts and linguists.

The NSA historian, Robert J. Hanyok, summarized his research in a 2001 internal document which was kept secret until word of it leaked out in 2005 and Times reporter Scott Shane covered it on October 30. Shane wrote a followup story on December 2, 2005, when the NSA made the original intercepts and intelligence reports public, releasing them on the Internet. In summary, Shane wrote, Hanyok thought the initial misinterpretation of North Vietnamese intercepts was probably an honest mistake. But after months of detective work in NSA's archives, Hanyok concluded that midlevel agency officials discovered the error almost immediately but covered it up and doctored documents so that they appeared to provide evidence of an attack.

"It is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night,” Hanyok wrote. “Information was presented in such a manner as to preclude responsible decisionmakers in the Johnson administration from having the complete and objective narrative of events from 4 August 1964. Instead, only [intercepts] that supported the claim that the communists had attacked the two destroyers were given to administration officials.”

"The overwhelming body of reports, if used, would have told the story that no attack had happened. So a conscious effort ensued to demonstrate that the attack occurred.”

John White

Rules of Order

Some of you may have caught a comment by Matt Hall at the last Council meeting. Basically, he apologized to me for a lack of clarity in the rules governing when resolutions may be offered during special meetings of the Council (regular meetings are the second Tuesday of every month and have their own particular rules... while special meetings are most every other meeting and have their own particular rules).

Anyway, if any of you were confused about why Matt brought up the issue of special meetings... and when resolutions are permitted... it was because of me and what I felt were two sets of rules for special meetings... with one set of rules applying to the majority and one set of rules applying to the minority.

Here's my point:

Step back in time to the June 26, 2007 special meeting known as Shenanigate. Hopefully, you'll recall that the Chairman used agenda item 14 (see the agenda here) to introduce his own resolution... which he then explained to Mr. Orsini was well within the Council's rules for special meetings:

Fast forwarding in time to the February 26, 2008 special meeting, please read item 6 on the agenda here.

Yet I'm prohibited from introducing my own resolution

Anyway, Matt is the Chairman and I understand the Town Attorney agrees with him. So my next question... will someone explain to me what exactly is the difference between the Shenanigate resolution and the pool resolution?

I really did appreciate Matt's words, but it doesn't resolve this for me. I'm left with the feeling that we're still operating under two sets of rules... Rules which govern the portion of the meetings that have been predetermined by the Democratic majority behind closed doors in caucus... and rules which govern the portion of the meetings that I consider to be the "open" part of the meetings in which both the public and GOP minority are allowed to participate... allowed to participate only until being given the Heisman... such as when I asked about the town's gas use policy.

I will ask the Town Attorney for greater clarification. But until then, I thought I owed the public an explanation about why Matt made his comments during the meeting last week.

Tim White

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gulf of Tonkin IX: Coverup or conspiracy, part 3

It is the duty of soldiers to follow orders, not to question the mission they’re sent on by their government. However, in a self-governing republic such as ours, it is the duty of citizens to inspect, question and, if need be, challenge the missions on which government sends soldiers into action. Patriotism requires close citizen scrutiny of government policy and practice, especially where the commitment of American lives is involved. Moreover, being a serving soldier does not mean being apolitical. As George Washington put it, When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen. We the people are the owners of the country and the masters of the government including, through the right to vote, those in uniform and if you have to take some heat for asserting that against scoundrels who wrap themselves in the flag to justify their illegal, immoral actions, so be it. As Americans have learned the hard way, the U.S. government sometimes sacrifices American GIs for worthless causes such as nation-building in Haiti and Serbia, and pacification in Mogadishu and Kosovo, where there is no threat to our national security but a lot of power and wealth to be gained by what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex.

Our nation must never start a war. We should have a strong military to defend America “that can include preemptive strikes if a threat is clear and imminent” but war must never be an instrument of foreign policy or commercial interests. Offensive war is rightly condemned by a soldier's conscience.

The only sensible and honorable foreign policy for America is strict neutrality. That means nonalliance, nonintervention, and no meddling in the internal affairs of other nations. It means free trade with all who want it, friendly relations with all who want it, and a strong national defense against those who do not want friendly relations.

Our nation also should withdraw from all military treaties so that we are not drawn into war by proxy. George Washington warned us in his Farewell Address to avoid all entangling alliances. His advice is still sound, especially since NATO is being turned into the standing army of the United Nations.

John White

to be continued...

Next week's budget dates

6:00 P.M., MONDAY, MARCH 17, 2008

6:15 p.m. Youth & Social Services
6:30 p.m. Police, Animal Control
7:30 p.m. General Services, Town Manager, Town Council, Town Attorney, Planning, Economic Development, Building Inspection (as time permits)
8:15 p.m. Library

7:30 P.M., TUESDAY, MARCH 18, 2008 - Public Hearing on the budgets

6:00 P.M., WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19, 2008

6:15 p.m. Fire
7:00 p.m. Education
8:30 p.m. Town Manager, Town Council, Town Attorney, Planning, Economic Development, Building Inspection (departments not covered at March 17, 2008 meeting)

6:00 P.M., THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2008

6:15 p.m. Senior & Transportation Services
6:30 p.m. Parks & Recreation, Community Pool
7:30 p.m. CPFA
7:45 p.m. Finance, Employee Benefits (Medical Benefits)
8:15 p.m. Recap

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Thanks for the support!

I've been going to the spaghetti supper fundraiser for about ten years now. And I've never seen it packed like it was tonight... when I arrived it looked like every table was filled. Damn! That was really impressive. Again... thanks to everyone who supported the GOP tonight.

Tim White

Spaghetti supper tonight!

The GOPs Spaghetti Supper fundraiser is tonight from 5:30pm - 7:30pm at the Cheshire Academy Commons. I hope you can make it!

Tim White

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The power of the bully pulpit

Some insiders like to accuse me of grandstanding. I prefer to call it using the bully pulpit. Either way, for my first few years on the Council, I tried very hard to ask all my questions "one-on-one." Unfortunately, it was only with time that I came to realize some questions immediately get answered and some questions will never get answered.

It was only when I came to that conclusion about a year ago that I decided some questions simply had to be asked during public meetings... and boy-oh-boy... the power of images is something. Between the TV and the Tubes, by tonight's budget meeting a few Council members must've seen this clip:
And decided that it was going to be politically risky to ignore it. So without going into a whole lot of detail, I'll just say that you shouldn't be surprised to see both:

1) video cameras being installed at town pumps (Elizabeth's suggestion); and
2) GPS installed on all town vehicles in the near future (my suggestion).

I will add that during the meeting one person generously suggested that we could ask the departments if they would benefit from GPS. To which I responded... that was unnecessary.... after all, I'm concerned about the benefit to the taxpayer... and, though I'm sure no Cheshire employee would do this... if someone was taking gas for personal use... and using a town-owned car for personal use... would they really want a GPS on the car?

I'm sure the Bridgeport boys wish GPS was never invented:

BRIDGEPORT — Four city fire inspectors have been fired after a lengthy investigation showed they spent workdays visiting friends, taking care of rental properties and spending time at home and doughnut shops. Central to the investigation conducted by Fire Department officials were the readouts from GPS units in the inspectors' new city-owned minivans. The devices revealed that the four were spending much of their time at "unassigned addresses," often for hours on end, officials said. (Conn Post, by John Burgeson)

Tim White

p.s. Thanks to Cindy over at Underground Town Hall for helping spotlight this as an area that was just asking to be abused... and though we may still need to keep pushing this... I'm guessing that there won't be much resistance to reform... besides, if they don't... everyone's gonna get a big surprise! :)

A real life RFI response!

I got the following from an email I received from Rich Ogurick earlier today (email addresses deleted):

Here is what you get when you send a "request for information" to a pool enclosure vendor.

Rich

From: the Gavin's
To: ogurick@aol.com
Sent: Mon, 10 Mar 2008 2:49 pm
Subject: Fw: OpenAire Estimate

From: "Robert Christie"
To: "David Gavin"
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 1:58 PM
Subject: OpenAire Estimate

Re: BUDGET ESTIMATE, Cheshire Pool
Location: Cheshire, CT
Date: 03/03/08

Dear David
The approximate value for the OpenAire enclosure would be $2,875,000 (based on the size you thought most appropriate). This enclosure is estimated to be 105'x218'(18 Bays) with 14' high sidewalls to the work point, gable structure with a 4/12 roof pitch, two full gable ends by OpenAire. A connecting building measuring 24'x20' with 8' sidewalls would abut this structure joining it to the existing change rooms.

This estimate is in accordance with the attached sketch dated 29/02/08. Installation is by OpenAire's non-union crew, if union rates are applicable the estimated price would be affected. This estimate is based on the assumption that the project site is easily accessible and that there is a suitable staging area available. Poor site conditions may effect the cost.

This estimate includes the design, fabrication and installation of the OpenAire building. The structure is of OpenAire's exclusive, thermally broken aluminum frame. The roof would be glazed with 1" (25mm) polycarbonate and would contain thirty two (32) operable roof panels (opening up to 50% of the rafter length). The vertical areas would be glazed with 1" (25mm) insulating glass, typically in the form of sliding glass doors. OpenAire's standard bay spacing is 12' on center.

This estimate does not include;
1) Supporting foundation
2) Heating and dehumidification systems or lighting.
3) Taxes.
4) Permits and bonds.
5) Power to the control panel.
6) Final cleaning.
7) Installation of wiring between enclosure and control box should box be located beyond the enclosure.

This budget estimate is based on today's dollars and inflation should be taken into account if the project is further out.

I trust that this is to your satisfaction.

Sincerely

Robert Christie
(613) 476-4534
www.openaire.com


Despite the fact that they had no real interest in understanding the meaning of the fund balance terminology, they did insist on understanding the meaning of the term RFI. Maybe it's just me, but I figured "request for information" was obvious, while "designated unreserved fund balance" may require a bit more thought.

Seriously though... who among you believes that this RFI example (from the "Cadillac" of pool enclosures) will be sufficient for the Council to adopt my motion at the next meeting?

Tim White

F&S Oil management

Reported by the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

A month before F&S Oil shut its doors and left 12,000 customers scrambling for a new home heating fuels supplier, the president and chief executive officer of the company was fired by the Middlebury man who owns the business, an attorney (Timothy Moynahan) for the owner said Tuesday....

“(Chris) Carr was hired to run the company early in the decade, and Mr. Stevens was an absentee owner from that point on,” Moynahan said. “He (Stevens) relied completely on Carr, and for a number of years, that confidence was validated. The results were good.”...

Stevens is listed as owner of the bio-fuels plant at 265 Sandbank Road in Cheshire, according to loan documents with the state Department of Economic and Community Development. The state agency gave F&S a $200,000 loan in December, the terms of which call for repayment over a 10-year period at an interest rate of 3 percent.


Tim White

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Budget basics: cash in and out

First you have the cash coming into the town... which is primarily funded with property taxes... that's the big blue pac-man that's gobbling up all the other taxes...

Then there's the cash going out of the town:
Sorry I can't find the budget schedule handy, but there is another budget meeting tomorrow night at town hall.

And on an unrelated note... the Cheshire GOP will be having its annual Spaghetti Supper fundraiser at the Cheshire Academy Commons this Friday from 5:30pm - 7:30pm. Or if you're interested in meeting one of the candidates running for the CT-5 this year, Dave Cappiello (R) will be at the Notch this Sunday, March 16 from 8:15am to 9:30am and Chris Murphy (D) will be having his green eggs and ham at Paul's Restaurant on St. Paddy's Day from 8am to 10am.

Tim White

Request for information

Last night's discussion on the pool had several facets, but one of the recurring themes was the inability of several opponents to answer the question...

What is a "request for information?"

Fair enough. So after slogging away at researching this question for seconds on end... when I finally thought of going to google and typed in "request for information," this is what I got:

Request for information

Among the first ten hits, you'll find the NYC government, NASA, the Nat'l Institutes of Health, the Virginia DOT, the SEC and the University of Texas... and of course, Wikipedia was first... as it usually is... I assume because, as a website, it gets more traffic than any of the other websites.

And by dedicating a few more seconds of research to this effort, I googled:

definition of request for information

and found this:

Any specific time-sensitive ad hoc requirement for intelligence information or products to support an ongoing crisis or operation not necessarily related to standing requirements or scheduled intelligence production. A request for information can be initiated to respond to operational requirements.... (thefreedictionary.com)

It's a bit militaristic, but it seems fairly straightforward to me. What do you think?

And as a followup to the meeting last night... it was ridiculous and I'm sorry to anyone who saw it. I really had no idea it would get that ugly. I was just trying to do what I thought was in the best interest of the town. Hopefully I can get the video posted in the next week or so.

Tim White

Working at IBM

I got an email today. It included a link to this video.

As you may have guessed, it was sent to me in response to last night's meeting where it seemed everyone kept saying "we don't know how to do this... we don't know what you mean... Tim, please explain!"

I hope none of those people ever apply to IBM for a job.

Tim White

Council mtg 3/11 (the pool)

First... there's a budget meeting tomorrow night. It'll will cover the Revenue, Employee Benefits, Debt Service and Capital Non-recurring parts of the budget... I should get a complete schedule up tomorrow....

But right now, tonight's meeting... specifically... did anyone catch tonight's discussion about the pool?? Damn.

I was truly surprised by the fireworks I lit up. Heck, I seem to recall being told (only two weeks ago) that my idea was good (for your own take, see here) and the problem were the rules of a special meeting. So I really had no idea it would get that heated... with suggestions about my lack of concern for transparency and voter participation... but I think the highlight of how nasty it got was when Matt Altieri made a veiled reference to me being immature... veiled as a comment about how he was glad I was finally showing some maturity... or something malarkey like that. And while I was even taken aback by that comment... I guess it didn't surprise me all that much. I mean I've been getting tattooed on this blog for the past year for my lack of maturity... and come to think of it... most of those anonymous comments (along with the annoying rhymes and tauntingly pro-Dem, pro-northend, pro-pavement, pro-turf, pro-Mary Fritz, anti-environment, anti-Republican, "errrt" comments) have been coming from the Wallingford Public Schools. And now that my mind is racing, maybe I should call long-time Wallingford Public Schools employee Matt Altieri and ask him who the appropriate WPS employee would be... if I wanted to contact someone under the Freedom of Information Act and determine who is using WPS equipment to post comments to this blog. Hmmm... the taxpayers might be interested to know who is using state-subsidized equipment to blog here... anyway....

Yes, the whole conversation got very heated. But I did bite my tongue several times in order to expedite the meeting. For instance, during this discussion there was a great deal of concern over terminology. Yet only two months ago, when I voiced concerns over the terminology of the fund balance... I was clearly told that it was unnecessary to understand the terminology. Huh?

And of course, with my pool proposal there was a legitimate concern about staff time being used on this... but personally, I think the $3,000,000 (one-time) and a $90,000/yr tax increase that related directly to the fund balance policy were a much bigger concern than a few dozen man hours... as well... there didn't seem to be too much concern about wasting $20,000 on that pool consultant... in fact, since one member of the majority said back in May of last year "we were looking for a third party to come in and say it is expensive to run and you're doing a good job," I have to conclude that there is no real sincerity on the part of a majority of the majority. To his credit, I think Matt Hall does want to take action... he's just not sure how to press forward.

And did anyone else notice how Matt Altieri told the world that I oppose the pool? Or something like that. Well, that's his point of view. He can say that... I can also take him to task on it... because I don't think I've ever addressed the pool in any terms other than cost... the same issue that most people have with it. So I'll probably follow up on that one particular comment, considering how outrageous I felt it was. Seriously, I believe Altieri was the person who made the motion for the pool consultant... and now he's gonna get up in arms with me over this? I hope people see him for what he is.

And one comment I've heard several times in the past six months... "(when it comes to the pool,) we need to get it right the first time... because we only have one chance." To that, I say hogwash. The only way that statement is true is if you're speaking in terms of the next election. And yes... it wouldn't surprise me to see nine incumbent Council members tossed out on their fannies in relation to another pool referendum... but I'm not about to start avoiding "tough" decisions based on reelection.

Finally, while I doubted I would find five votes to support the motion that I first introduced two weeks ago... I do believe that I got done what I wanted to get done... town staff is taking action... and before we need to hear from another anonymous poster from the Wallingford Public Schools, I'll point out that if the Council was going to take action... it would have done so years ago. If I hadn't pressed this issue publicly, we'd still be spinning our wheels.

And one last comment following the pool, I was happy I got a nod of approval from the Personnel Committee Chairman (Altieri) that he'll be compiling a brief synopsis of grievances filed by town employees. I'm basically looking to get a handle on employee relations in town... and my guess is that "grievances filed" would be some sort of indication.

Your thoughts?

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission liaison

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Public access may come to U-Verse

Local public access television channels could make their debut on AT&T’s U-verse system by sometime next month, 16 months after the service was launched in the state, company officials said Friday.

U-verse is AT&T’s challenge to cable television in the state. The service is operating in parts of 40 communities and 135,000 households.
(NHR, by Luther Turmelle)

Frankly though, I'm still puzzled as to why we don't have Council meetings available on the town website. I figure if I (and seemingly most kids) can learn self-taught videostreaming, any organization with an annual budget of nearly $100,000,000 ought to be able to figure it out.

Tim White

Monday, March 10, 2008

Charter revision 2/26

And here's the discussion on Charter revision: Tim White

Council mtg 02/26/08 - the pool

I've been sick as a dog for most of this weekend... starting to feel better now though. So for those of you who missed the Feb 26 Council meeting, here's one agenda item... the pool.

Btw, since there were procedural issues with my motion at a Special Council meeting, I asked Matt Hall to include the pool on tomorrow's agenda.

And here is my tentative resolution on the pool:

Whereas, (in relation to the Cheshire Community Pool) the Cheshire Town Council wants to save money, conserve energy, improve air quality and protect the existing building;

Therefore, be it resolved, the Town Council directs the Town Manager to prepare and issue a request for information (RFI) for alternatives to the bubble; and

Be it resolved, the Town Council directs the Town Manager to include alternative financing options (for example, performance contracts) for the bubble alternatives in the RFI; and

Be it resolved, the Town Council directs the Town Manager to complete this RFI by May 31, 2009, so that the information may be used in the first year of the 2009/2010 Annual Capital Expenditure Budget.


Tim White

Saturday, March 08, 2008

TMs proposed 08/09 budget

Hot off the presses...The police delivered it only a few minutes ago. Comment away!

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

F&S Oil closed

If you're an F&S oil customer, you should read this WFSB article on them closing their doors and shuttering their windows:

The sudden closure left a lot of home heating oil users in the Waterbury area without an oil supplier, and many with useless pre-buy contracts. Now homeowners are forced to find a new supplier and the state is working to reclaim money from the prepaid contracts.

"Closing your doors at 5 p.m. -- literally disappearing into the night -- leaving 12,000 customers without notice and thousands of pre-buy contracts not honored is no way to do business," Rell said.


If you (or anyone you know) use F&S... please check your oil tanks and do what you need to do.

Tim White

h/t to Vin Flynn!

Public access on U-Verse

For those of you who are unaware, due to ongoing changes in the regulatory environment of cable TV... Cox Cable now has competition in Cheshire (I think it's already available for some houses, though not mine off of Bradford Drive). The competitor is AT&Ts U-Verse. I don't know that much about the product, but the MRJ (by George Moore) is reporting on one of the more contentious issues... the availability of public access channels.

As for my personal knowledge on when it will be available to you at your own house... a few months ago I was driving down my street and I saw an AT&T lineman working. So I stopped and asked him the deal. He said that the rollout is taking time because it is very labor intensive. But as the service becomes available in a particular neighborhood, AT&T will be mailing out notices to each household.

Tim White

An HTML tutorial

A few people have asked me about the "comments section." Specifically, they've asked how to use bold, italics, etc. Here's a very brief tutorial on HTML:There are other ways to get the same results, but I find these to be the easiest HTML code to remember.

Tim White

Friday, March 07, 2008

Ethics in local governments

On the heels of both Governor Rell and the Courant's editorial board calling for ethics reform, I see a survey from Ethics.org (registration apparently required) mentioned in the current issue of American City & County:

Almost one-quarter of the public sector employees responding to the survey said there is a great deal of pressure to compromise standards in their work environments. About 63 percent of local government employees in the survey said they had observed at least one type of misconduct in the previous year. While federal employees reported less inclination toward misconduct on their jobs, 86 percent of state and local government employees reported a lack of a strong ethics program in their workplaces, while only 7 percent of state employees and 9 percent of local government employees said they see a truly ethical culture on the job.

And we live in Corrupticut.

I think it would be prudent for the Council to consider some form of ethics reform... if for no other reason than to simply highlight the very serious nature of the problem... a problem particularly bad in CT.

Tim White

Council agenda 3/11

As promised... here's the Council agenda for next Tuesday:
Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Charter revision discussion begins

The WRA reports on the possibility of Charter revision.

As many of you know, the Council has nine members... 5 Dems and 4 Rs. And opening the Charter requires a 6 members voting in favor... so opening the Charter would be bipartisan.

The WRA also discusses the timing of the process... "Elizabeth Esty, the chairman of the ordinance subcommittee, said that discussions likely won't begin until April, after the town has finished with its budget."

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Cappiello at the Notch

I got an email from GOP Congressional candidate Dave Cappiello today. He's planning on visiting the Notch on Sunday morning (8:15 - 9:30am)... no word yet on when Chris Murphy will be stopping by. Fortunately, in just the past few weeks I've seen both of them in town and asked them each about my #1 concern...

What are we/you going to do about America's unfunded long-term liabilities (social security & medicare)?

Thankfully they both gave me an honest answer...basically saying... it'll be tough, but we (America) need to tackle the problem.

As for pressing them for details... I'm assuming that there will be massive compromises by everyone if any sort of real reform is to be adopted. I just hope real reform is undertaken, while ensuring the social pact that exists today is not disrupted in any serious way for people who depend on the programs.

And on one more political note... the Cheshire GOPs annual spaghetti supper fundraiser is next Friday, March 14 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

Tim White

NHR on WiLi

Here's the NHRs take on the library going wireless (by Luther Turmelle). Depending on cost, I think this could be a great thing.

And separately, I'm back from Washington. I had a fantastic time... which btw, if you're curious... while I went in the name of the town (the organizers wanted local officials), I paid for everything. I'll try to draft some bullet point ideas this weekend on how Cheshire may be able to use some more renewable energy options in the not-so-distant future... although I've already mentioned a lot of the general stuff already.

Alright... it's late. I'm going to bed... but if you're interested in the Council agenda for next Tuesday... I'll try to post it by tomorrow night, if I have it.

Tim White

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

WIREC update

Just a real brief update... I recalled a January '08 solid waste committee meeting. In the meeting we discussed the future of our current "waste to energy" facility. (It's a 5 town facility: Cheshire, Hamden, Meriden, North Haven and Wallingford??) Our existing contract expires in June 2009 and the town obviously needs to ensure continuous waste removal. So I started asking some questions about current "waste to energy" options... and apparently the technology has moved forward in leaps and bounds in the past few decades (or at least that's what the salesmen said!). So I'm going to try to get more information about that... though being in a five town consortium makes me doubt that a change of this nature would happen in the time available (approx 15 mos.)

Tim White

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

WIREC 2008

Washington International Renewable Energy Conference 2008. wow.

I was surprised when I heard that Negroponte was speaking. Then yesterday I heard Woolsey was speaking. Then this morning... I found out the Colin Powell and the POTUS himself are speaking at this thing. So I guess I get to see W speak tomorrow. I actually had a chance about a year or two ago when he came to Bridgeport. I took a pass though, but this time I'm interested.

Anyway, aside from the people who are attending... this conference is pretty impressive. The people here are incredibly knowledgable and many can explain complex concepts in layman's terms... which is good for me. :) I finally found someone who could explain wind mills to me in very simple terms... translating the town's energy usage (12,000,000kWh/yr??) into dollars. The unfortunate thing was that I had several "wind experts" tell me that CT isn't a very good place for wind turbines. So I guess I'll be looking at photovoltaics (PVs = solar) again.

I also found an expert on anaerobic digesters (ADs). For those who don't know what an AD is... it's basically a machine that captures methane (we have lots of it at the sewer plant) and uses the methane (similar to natural gas) to power a machine that to generate electricity (maybe a microturbine or fuel cell??)... or... well... it's something like that. Bottom line though... I got excited when the girl told me that ADs are good for as few as 300 cattle... I figured 4000 houses must generate more *$&% than 300 cattle. Then she told me that 1 cow = 33 gallons of #^*%. So I'm not sure if that would work... something to investigate further... maybe I can find another AD distributor tomorrow.

The last type of renewable energy that jumped out at me today was geothermal. I believe BOE member Tod Dixon was recently advocating this in relation to the electric retrofit for the back 1/3 of CHS. I didn't get any info on it today, but will ask some questions tomorrow.

Aside from renewable energies, the most fascinating presentation for me today was a discussion on the auto industry looking at "plug-in" vehicles. They're mantra was "cool cars, green grid." (Cool = electric.) GM was there discussing about their plans for plugins.

Gotta run.

Tim White

Library going wireless

According to the MRJ, the library wants to go wireless... as for the online version... it's out there, if you google it. But I'm renting a computer right now and... I can't figure out how to open up a new window... so I'm not including the link... just too complicated.

Tim White

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Council mtg 2008 Jan 08

For those of you who don't have Cox cable (or are simply interested in an encore performance!), here's the agenda for the January 8 Council meeting... along with another imperfect video upload:

Part 1

Part 2 (starts with fund balance policy)

Tim White

Biofuels: cost or benefit?

Quod Felix tipped me off to this Feb 8 article in the NYTimes about the "true cost/benefit" of biofuels (by Elizabeth Rosenthal).

Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.

The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. These latest studies, published in the prestigious journal Science, are likely to add to the controversy....

The destruction of natural ecosystems — whether rain forest in the tropics or grasslands in South America — not only releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned and plowed, but also deprives the planet of natural sponges to absorb carbon emissions. Cropland also absorbs far less carbon than the rain forests or even scrubland that it replaces.


Just something to ponder.

And in a related topic... I'm hoping to attend this renewable energy conference this week in Washington. With names, such as Negroponte and Khosla, I think is supposed to be a pretty big-to-do. Finally, something that may be of interest to people who have ever tried understanding the "who's who" of the "renewable energy" field, this floor plan of the adjacent trade show may be helpful as a basic tutorial.

Tim White

p.s. the conference may make it difficult for me to post much this week.

List of town vehicles

In a recent post, I mentioned the town's gas use policy. My thoughts there led to some discussion about the town's fleet. So here's the most recent list (June 30, 2004) that I have handy. Additionally, if you read the list, you'll notice I was incorrect in saying the town (excl. schools) had 170 vehicles. (I recalled that number from this list.) However, as you can see, the "170" includes 23 school vehicles. Also worth mentioning is that a few of these "assets" are something other than vehicles, such as generators, chippers, etc.





Tim White

Council mtg 2/13

For anyone who missed the Feb 13 Council meeting, you can watch it here. The quality is imperfect (there's an audio/video mismatch that gets progressively worse as you near completion of the video), but I figure it's better than no online version. Click here for the agenda.

Part 1
Part 2

I haven't had the time to determine times for each agenda item. But if any of you watch it, I'm sure people would appreciate you adding times for the beginning/end of each agenda item in the comments.

Tim White

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Pasta supper on 3/14

David Schrumm's annual pasta dinner (a GOP fundraiser) will be March 14 at the Cheshire Academy Commons from 5:30-7:30pm. Adults - $10, kids - $3.The Cheshire YMCA is also having a fundraiser...The Cheshire Community YMCA will be honoring Donald Wailonis, Ives Farm and Bill Fountain at our Annual Dinner Meeting and Awards Ceremony. The event will take place on March 12, 2008, 6:00pm at the Farms Country Club. Tickets are still available for the event. If you would like to purchase tickets you may call the YMCA at (203) 272-3150 or email cpeluso@southington-cheshireymca.org. Tickets are $35.00 and include dinner and a cash bar.

If you have a fundraiser that you'd like mentioned here, just email me the details and I'll try to mention it.

Tim White

Gulf of Tonkin VIII: Coverup or conspiracy? part 2

This is the sixth installment of a continuing piece about my dad's experience. For the previous installments, click here to see part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V, part VI and part VII.

Coverup or Conspiracy? part 2

In fact, North Vietnam strongly denied ever firing torpedoes at the destroyers. Giap reiterated that to McNamara in Hanoi and said in their official 1965 statement that the alleged attack was "deliberately staged by the United States to have a pretext for carrying out its criminal designs against the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam." Furthermore, the now-declassified radio messages have been made public. Captain John Herrick, commodore of the two-ship patrol, radioed this message to the Commander in Chief of the Pacific at 12:30 a.m. on August 5, 1964: "Review of action makes many reported contacts and torpedoes fired appear doubtful" He also has stated, "It was the echo of our outgoing sonar beam hitting the rudders, which were then full over, and reflected back into the receiver. Most of the Maddox's, if not all of the Maddox's, reports were probably false."

Twenty years after I'd come forward, with more than a bit of apprehension about being charged with treason for revealing secret information, I was pleased to have my story completed and to feel "cleared" of the "crime" of speaking out against what I saw as governmental deception. That deception was real and, as we now know, ultimately led to the tragic loss of more than 58,000 Americans, billions of dollars of materiel, and a clear sense of national unity and purpose. It was far worse for Vietnam and southeast Asia, of course, where the destruction was enormous and the death toll ran into the millions. (But note that many of those deaths were committed by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong against their own people.) McNamara now acknowledges that Vietnam was a mistake, but he only admits errors of judgment, not deception and coverup. Shame on him!

As for me, I never felt unpatriotic about what I did, although I was considered so by some people. I was antiwar but not antimilitary. I supported our troops but not our foreign policy. I separated the war from the warriors, some of whom were my friends and comrades-in-arms. I didn't want to see them come home in body bags because of an unconstitutional and just-plain-wrong conflict. I believe America's freedom must be defended from all enemies, foreign or domestic. I also believe there are more than a few of the latter kind in positions of social, commercial, industrial, financial and political power who use their influence and resources in what can be called conspiratorial fashion to extend their power and to increase their wealth through manufactured situations such as the Vietnam debacle. (Two of the current phrases for such phony ventures are "nation-building" and pacification.) Therefore I challenged a government policy because I felt it was contrary to the best interests of our nation, our armed forces and the world itself.

John White

to be continued...

The Saturday Night Live debate