Sunday, February 28, 2010

No kidding

The Globe reveals today what we all know: that health insurance for government workers is completely out of wack, especially when compared to private sector workers.

The end result is that cities and towns (i.e. you and me) are busting their budgets paying for these benefits, in addition to pensions, sick day buy backs, etc, etc.

I challenge you to read this article and not have your blood pressure explode. What kills me is that this bums not only get Cadillac Plans but also have low co-pays and pay 11% of the total cost in premiums (private sector employees pay 30%).

Here is a taste that will make you want to punch your computer screen:

Elizabeth Debski spent eight years as Everett’s city planner, before losing her job in 2006 when a newly elected mayor installed his own team.

But Debski did not leave City Hall empty-handed. In addition to her pension, Debski, at 42, walked away with city-subsidized health care insurance for life. If she lives into her 80s, as actuarial charts predict, taxpayers could pay more than $1 million in all for her family’s health care benefits.

That’s not to say Debski manipulated the system. She simply took what she was owed under a municipal health care system whose generous benefits and colossal inefficiencies are crippling cities and towns across Massachusetts.

A six-month review by the Globe found that municipal health plans, which cover employees, retirees, and elected officials, provide benefit levels largely unheard of in the private sector. Copays are much lower. Some communities do not force retirees onto Medicare at age 65. Many citizens on elected boards - some after serving as few as six years - receive coverage for life, too.

As medical costs across the board rose over the past decade, municipal health care expenses exploded, draining local budgets and forcing major cuts in services, higher property tax bills, and billions in new debt.

“It has got to be dealt with,’’ said Richard Fortucci , the chief financial officer in Lynn. “Or we will all go bankrupt.’’

The cost of municipal health care more than doubled from fiscal 2001 to 2008, adding more than $1 billion in all to city and town budgets, according to state Department of Revenue data. A Globe survey of 25 communities found that they now devote, on average, 14 percent of their budgets to health care, up from 8 percent a decade ago. Somerville, for one, spends $20 million more annually than it did 10 years ago, now devoting almost 20 percent of its budget to health care.

So far, with powerful labor unions resistant to giving away hard-won benefits and a lack of political will in the state Legislature to force changes, efforts to overhaul the system have fallen short.

To be sure, many municipal employees, elected officials, and retirees are paying a greater percentage of their health premiums than ever. Still, almost all of the increase in municipal health care costs in the past 10 years has been shouldered by taxpayers, who are subsidizing plans that are often superior to their own.

“It’s a nice deal,’’ said Debski, now a part-time planner in Malden.

She could get insurance through her husband’s employer but doesn’t, for a simple reason: The municipal plan is far more generous and costs less.

“The system was there,’’ she said. “I find it hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t take what the system offered.’’

More DeNucci Hacks

Howie Carr weighs in again today with yet another hack job by Auditor Joe DeNucci. The 70 year old former boxer is well liked, especially by Howie, but he is the King of Hackery.

Today Howie highlights the plight of one Steve Anzalone Jr who was denied a job in the Probation Department because his family already has 6 (!) people working that department. So, a judge nixed the job. But, Hack DeNucci stepped in:

This is where Joe DeNucci steps up. As you might recall, the good auditor was featured in these pages earlier this week, staunchly defending himself for employing his own 77-year-old cousin Buster as a “fraud examiner.”

Follow the bouncing ball.

Steve’s dad is Steve Sr., and he is “first assistant chief probation officer.” Three, count ’em, three diminutives, good for $82,078.90 a year.

In 2007, the old man suddenly begins to take an interest in Joe DeNucci’s political career - chipping in $200 in June.

In April 2008, Steve Jr. is denied his probation job.

On May 2, 2008, he is hired by Joe DeNucci. In what capacity? Why, as a fraud examiner, for a $40,056.10-a-year sinecure.

On June 20, 2008, Steve Sr. and Kathleen of the same address, presumably Jr.’s mom, each max out to the DeNucci campaign - $500 apiece.


Good thing there isn't a budget crisis, huh? See the whole column here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How many more, Mr. Speaker?

President Obama's mantra of hope and change is turning into a nightmare for him and his party! His hope and change are now favoring the Republicans - they're very hopeful that there will be a lot of change in November!

In addition to the retirements of folks like Patrick Kennedy, Chris Dodd, and Byron Dorgan, the Globe reports today that 30 Massachusetts legislators are retiring or running for other seats. Some of those of course are Republicans but some long time pols like Rep. Marie St. Fleur and Sens. Joan Menard and Marian Walsh are bowing out. In addition, New York Gov. David Paterson, who replaced the disgraced Elliot Spitzer, announced today that he is not running for election.

Can you imagine...Obama came in on this huge wave last year. He was a fresh voice, he was going to change Washington, he was going help us see beyond our fears. And what has happened? His party is facing major losses in November, Ted Kennedy's old seat went to a Republican and the seats formerly held by Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton may go to Republicans.

Here in Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick will most likely lose in November and the Republicans are looking to pick up seats in the legislature and may even win some other constitutional offices.

This guy is a unmitigated disaster...and I'm loving it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Amen

One of the best stories I've heard in a while is the firing of every single teacher and administrator at Central Falls High School in Central Falls, RI. I've never heard of Central Falls until now but I guess it's an incredibly poor city with very high unemployment. The schools are so bad that the state and national government run them, not the city (and that changeover happened in 1991).

So it seems that the superintendent asked the school's teachers to work an extra 25 minutes a day to help tutor the kids but they refused since they would not be paid. This despite the fact the teachers make, on average, $70,000 a year!

Good riddance.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back home

So little Erin and mommy came home yesterday. After dropping Kevin off at his daycare in the morning, I went to Lynn's parent's house in West Roxbury to pick up the baby's cradle. The cradle has been in Lynn's family for over 100 years and all of the children in the family use it as their cradle.

After that, I went to the hospital to wait for the discharge. They let them leave around 3pm and we then picked up Kevin - he was so excited to show Erin off to the other kids. Erin slept for a long time after we got home (she loves car rides already) and it gave us a chance to settle back in. Our friend Rebecca called us and asked if we wanted dinner! She was making stuffed peppers and said she would bring some over. They were sooo good. She stayed for a little while and when she went to leave, Kevin said, "Can I give you a hug?" It was too cute. We met Rebecca and her husband Dave a number of years ago at our church. They have a daughter Julia who is a few weeks younger than Kevin and they're really good buddies.

The first night at home was so so. Erin slept for most of the evening but would not fall asleep when it counted - late at night! Lynn eventually got her to fall asleep around 11:30 and I think she was up 1 or 2 more times during the night. She slept on and off during the early morning and I think mommy and baby are sleeping right now. We did give her a pacifier and it may have been a little counter productive as she now expects to nurse on something of similar size and won't eat. Thus, no more pacifier for now.

I am going to take Kevin out for the morning. I think we're going hit a library or two as it's raining outside. I was able to take him to the playground last Saturday - it was so nice to play outside. I was hoping we could play in the snow today but it looks like rain only.

Come on!

My father worked for many years at the State House in the 1980's and 1990's (no, not has a hack but as a carpenter working on its restoration). He said the two nicest people there former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Murphy (or was it former Rep. Marjorie Clapprood, I can't remember) and Auditor Joe DeNucci.

Everyone seems to like DeNucci but even he falls victim to the hackery. Howie has the details here but below is a hint of where this is going:

Look, I like Joe DeNucci. He’s one of the very few normal people left holding office in the Democratic party, state or national.

But this is a perfect example of why people are so steamed right now. They can’t find a job - but then, they’re not Joe DeNucci’s cousin.

“I’m not a bad guy,” Buster said. “I’ve just had a bad time of it, and Joe’s helping me to survive.”

It’s odd that Buster has been on the payroll since 2008, yet no one ever thought to drop a dime until now. Could my scoop possibly be connected to the fact that DeNuch just cut back the hours of 38 of his employees, including Buster, while laying off 12 employees altogether.


So you might say that if Joe were to guess who dimed out his cousin, he’d have a one-in-12 chance of getting it right.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day #2

Today was another day mostly spent at the hospital. I took Kevin to his daycare in the morning (he goes twice a week) and then headed over to Lowell General. We just kind of hung out all morning as Erin was awake for most of the morning and afternoon.

My parents and Lynn's parents stopped by around 2pm and visited for a couple of hours. By 4pm or so, Erin was crying and hungry so we all headed out - me to get Kevin and the four grandparents to the 99 in Lowell. The 99 is right near Kevin's daycare so they followed me over. After I got Kevin, we stopped into the 99 so he could see everyone. It was funny...I told him to walk up to the table and surprise them. No one noticed him for a few seconds until my father saw him out of the corner of his eye waving his hand.

After that, Kevin and I were going to go home for a bit but my sister Meaghan said she was just a few minutes away from the hospital so we went back there. Kevin's daycare made cupcakes in Erin's honor today and he had one left so we sang happy birthday to her and Kevin ate it all up!

While Meaghan was visiting my friend Bill (Kevin's godfather) stopped in for a visit on his way home from working in Boston for the day. Bill, Meaghan, Kevin, and I then went to the hospital cafeteria for dinner and afterwards they both went home. Kevin had a mini-tantrum after they left...need to find a way to curb those when Erin comes home!

Tonight we asked Meaghan if she would be Erin's godmother (which she suspected) and my friend Andrew Nelson to be the godfather (he is also Bill's brother). Andrew is currently a seminarian for the Manchester diocese and is studying at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. He's already promised to send Erin to Ireland for a pilgrimage when she gets older!

Lynn and Erin should come home tomorrow and then the fun begins. I am guessing this will be my last night of sleep for a long time...yikes!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The stork has arrived!

After a 12 day delay, Baby Flaherty #2 has arrived! Erin Elizabeth Flaherty was born at 6:43pm tonight at Lowell General Hospital. She weighed in a little under 9 lbs. but I don't think I ever caught her length.

Lynn woke me up at 5am this morning saying her water had broke. We had already planned for our neighbors to watch Kevin when the time came so they graciously came over as we headed out (my parents came up shortly thereafter and took him to their house for the day). We arrived at the hospital around 5:30am and after a few tests, they determined that Lynn should be admitted. Thus began one of the longest days of Lynn's life!

She did pretty well throughout the morning and early afternoon spending most of the time sitting up in a chair reading magazines and watching TV. Around 3 or 4, they began to do some more exams and realized that things were not moving along as fast as they wanted. No matter what she did, Lynn could not get comfortable in the bed, even after the epidural. She was very, very miserable and cried a lot. The nurses and staff, however, were amazing and had the patience of saints.

Around 6:15, the head began to appear and everyone sprung into action. A little while later, my baby girl was born! I cut the cord very quickly as Erin had some micodium (i.e. poop) on her and they were afraid she may have had some in her throat as well. They did a lot of work on her and within 10 minutes or so, she was all ready. She wasn't fussy at all (knock on wood) and took to nursing very, very easily. Kevin, on the other hand, was a little difficult when he was born.

My parents brought Kevin up around 8:30pm and he started crying when he saw Lynn in a wheelchair! After a little bit, he calmed down and took to the baby very quickly - he sang happy birthday to her many times.

Kevin and I got home just a little while ago and he was incredibly tired and fell right asleep. He woke up between 5am and 6am and although he took a nap during the day, it was a late night for him. We're going to buy a little birthday cake for the baby tomorrow and bring it to the hospital, should be fun.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Oh dear Lord

I was watching a movie last night ("Seabiscuit") and had a big cup of water on the table next to me. I fell asleep on the couch and forgot about the water when I went to bed at 2am. I always put cups of water or milk away less a little 2 year old or kitty cat spill them.

This morning I noticed the cup and thought to myself that I needed to move it. I then ran out to get coffee and on my way home Lynn called me to tell me that Kevin spilled water all over my school laptop. When I got home I turned it on and everything was working fine. But, it later shut down and began acting all funny. So, we all headed up to school to leave it for our technology guy (Lynn doesn't want to be left alone since she's so close to delivering). My principal was actually coming in too when I got there and I fessed up right away! Luckily Kevin was there so I could blame him (harder to get mad when a little kid does it, right). I just pray it is OK - we're not a rich school and a new computer for a moron who left water laying around would not be a good thing.

None of us had really eaten so we stopped at McDonald's for breakfast (is there anything better for breakfast?) and then went home to do some food shopping. Our fridge has been on the fritz for sometime and we finally got a new one this week so it was the first major shopping trip we've done in a while.

As for now, it's the waiting game. Lynn doesn't want me leaving her alone so I am staying put for the rest of the weekend. I am sneaking out at 5pm to meet up with a guy running for office along with another Dracut blogger. Other than that, it's Baby Watch all the time. If the baby doesn't come by Monday, Lynn will be induced. She does not want that as Kevin was induced and she was miserable (took close to 24 hours). I told her I'd get something spicy for dinner!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow day

So today is another snow day but, um, well, there really isn't a lot of snow out there yet. It was snowing when I got the call at 5am and when I woke up again later it looked sunny out! Now it's coming down a little bit. We shall see.

Yesterday we had school and I ran 9, yes 9, mini-assemblies for all of the Social Studies classes. The topic was Washington's Birthday. After explaining to the kids that yesterday was not President's Day, I played "Hail to the Chief" and introduced George Washington himself (well, kids, teachers, etc. wearing a powered wig and black jacket). We then brought a cake up with candles and we sang happy birthday and he blew them out. The kids got a kick out of it I think because they were not expecting it and they were all curious who was playing Washington. During one period, a former teacher was visiting so I asked him to play Washington. When he came up, the kids who remembered him were completely blown away, it was a great moment.

I then gave a brief talk on the painting "Washington's Crossing" and the kids then had pieces of cake. Each assembly was about 15 minutes or so, nothing too fancy. But I tell you, doing it nine times wiped me out. I fell asleep on the couch around 5pm last night and slept for about an hour (off and on between Kevin jumping on me). I was out like a light by 10:30 or so last night.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Washington's Birthday

Faithful readers of this blog will recall my crusade last year to educate people about the fact that the third Monday in February is Washington's Birthday, not "President's Day." Remember, there is no such holiday as "President's Day." Congress considered changing the name of the holiday in 1968 when they moved many holidays to Mondays but they never did (see article on that here). Instead, they moved the celebration of Washington's Birthday from February 22 to the third Monday in February.

I am in charge of an assembly tomorrow at school and I am going to stress this over and over again! I bought some George Washington signs yesterday and I hung them all over the school last night (I was there to do some correcting and to see a school play). It should be fun!

Oh dear God

From today's Boston Globe:

“Massachusetts - and Capitol Hill - without a Kennedy is like Fenway Park without the Wall,’’ said Dan Payne, a Democratic media consultant, referring to the famous Green Monster. “They were meant to be together.’’

Dan Payne is the biggest sycophant for the Democrats and the Kennedy's in the state of Massachusetts. What a load of crap this is. It's not 1962 anymore. Old man Joe is dead. Jack is dead. Bobby is dead. Teddy is dead. It's over Mr. Payne. The Kennedy's cannot buy power anymore.

To quote Gerald Ford, "Our long, national nightmare is over."

Friday, February 12, 2010

On the air

I will be on 980 AM WCAP tomorrow at 6:30am to talk Dracut politics. You can listen on-line here.

It's all over

Camelot and the Kennedy Family's formal role in elected politics will be officially over on January 2, 2011. The final remaining Kennedy in public office, U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, will not seek re-election in November. Kennedy is the son of the late Ted Kennedy and has served in the House for 16 years.

He was destined to lose re-election anyway so I assume he wanted to go out on his own terms and give the Democrats a chance at holding the seat.

This is amazing. We are a year removed from the election of Barack Obama and the great Democratic sweep. Now, the "Kennedy seat" in Massachusetts went to a Republican and the last Kennedy family member is leaving because he too was vulnerable. Obama, one can assume, has been a complete disaster.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

No baby yet

As you can see above, Baby #2 is overdue. He/she was due on February 10. Lynn had a doctor's appointment yesterday and they told her it may be another week or so.

That timing will actually work out well as February vacation begins a week from tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lawrence Bailout

It looks like the state is going to have to bailout Lawrence at the tune of $35 million. The city will get a loan from the state and the state will help oversee its finances (not like Chelsea or Springfield...yet). But, the legislation is in trouble because the new mayor, Willie Lantigua, is also a state representative and he refuses to resign of one those positions.

From what I hear, Lantigua is a bum and during the campaign last year, he refused to speak to non-Spanish media outlets! But, one has to be fair. Lantigua, a Democrat, has been mayor for a month or so...why isn't there any criticism of the guy who was mayor for 8 years, Republican Michael Sullivan? He seems to be getting a pass here whereas Lantigua is being blamed for everything.

Now, I do think Lantigua should resign his House seat and focus on his job as mayor. No one should be allowed to hold two elected positions and collect all that money and pensions from the government. But, to hold him responsible for everything and to not mention Sullivan at all doesn't seem all that fair just yet.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl

Lynn and I usually have some friends over for the Super Bowl but since she's on the verge of baby #2, she didn't want to have it this year. So, one of the guys who usually comes will be hosting it at his house in Boston. I decided to make an asparagus, red onion, and Romano cheese salad for the occasion. I saw it yesterday on Food Network and it looked darn good. I just made it and it is so tasty. In addition to the three things above, it also includes red wine vinegar, salt, and olive oil.

It's so easy to make and the flavors are amazing. Check out the recipe here.

2010 the new 1990?

In 1990, Bill Weld rode into office on an anti-incumbent, anti-establishment wave. A number of Republicans won seats in the state Senate too which gave Weld a veto-proof majority. Many Republicans are hoping that the stars are aligned this year too for another Republican uptick in the corner office, the State legislature, constitutional offices, and the U.S. House.

It should be all set for them, we have: a very unpopular governor and president, corrupt leaders in the legislature (3 Speakers in a row have resigned in disgrace and 3 senators have resigned because of problems with the law), high unemployment, continued hack hires, outrageous public salaries, etc, etc, etc.

Howie Carr talks about this possibility in his Sunday column. See it all here but below is a taste:

The most interesting Congressional race looks to be in the 10th District, the South Shore and the Cape and Islands. At age 69, Bill Delahunt is slowing down, and lately he’s been accompanied by Joe Kennedy’s namesake redheaded son, who’s usually referred to as Joe Some-Roman-Numeral or Carrot Top.

But really, is this the year for yet another traditional Kennedy Do-You-Know-Who-I-Am Campaign? The Kennedy legacy ain’t what it used to be - just ask Mike Capuano. And now Patches Kennedy is reminding 52 percent of the electorate exactly why they razed Camelot three weeks ago.

Probably better to run Delahunt one more time and hope for the best. If he gets knocked off by Bob Hedlund or Jeff Perry, Carrot Top can return in a couple of terms to take the Republican down, the way the Dems did with the last two GOP congressmen, Blute and Torkildsen.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pot, meet kettle

So Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted Kennedy, called Sen. Scott Brown's run for office a "joke" after he moved up his swearing in by a week. That's rich coming from a guy who was so doped up on Ambien that he crashed his car at 3am near the U.S. Capitol in 2006. This is also the guy who tried to push over an older airport security agent to get to a plane when the agent had the audacity to ask him to go through security in 2000. This is a guy who was a coke head and took Oxycontin as a teenager. This is a guy who was fighting with his girlfriend so heatedly on his yacht that the Coast Guard had to be called. This is the guy who got in a car accident at a CVS and whose written statement was such gibberish that it seemed as if he was high or drunk. This is a guy who has spent more time in rehab than he has at his own house.

Tell me again, who is a joke?

Camelot is dead

Howie Carr has been pointing out this week that for the first time in 57 years, Massachusetts is not represented by someone in the U.S. Senate who is a Kennedy or a Kennedy flunkie. You may recall that JFK was elected to the Senate in 1952 and served until his "election" as president in 1960. He was replaced by his old college roommate Benjamin Smith to serve until Ted Kennedy was old enough to be a U.S. senator. Ted was elected in 1962 and served until his death in 2009. From there, Paul Kirk, a longtime friend of the Kennedy's was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick to serve until the January special election.

Now, the seat is back in the hands of its rightful owners...the people of Massachusetts.

See Howie's column here.

Get over it

I saw Sen. John Kerry on the news last night complaining that Sen. Scott Brown should have been more "sensitive" to former Sen. Pauk Kirk and his staff. Brown was sworn in yesterday, a week earlier than planned and he demanded that he be sworn in on the 4th giving Kirk and his staff little time to move out.

But you know what, Sen. Kerry, I don't recall the Democratic party being so "sensitive" when it changed the Senate vacancy law for the second time in 5 years last fall and sending Kirk to Washington at the behest of the Kennedy family to be the interim senator. Kirk was appointed only because he was part of the Kennedy "clan" and they wanted him to be there vote on "the cause of Kennedy's life."

No, Democrats can do whatever they want, the people be damned. But, when a Republican wants to be sworn in to an office to which he was elected, he's not being "sensitive."

By the way, Ted Kennedy was elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election on November 6, 1962. Care to guess when he was sworn in? November 7, 1962. I wonder if John Kerry would accuse him of not being sensitive to Benjamin Smith, the former college roommate of JFK and seat-warmer who was holding the seat for Teddy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's official

Scott Brown is now the junior senator from Massachusetts!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Need names!

When Lynn was pregnant with Kevin, we were all set with a girl's name and two possible boy's names. We were initially all set on Joseph but when driving through Dorchester one day, I saw a sign for St. Kevin's School and thought that would be an awesome name. So, we decided that we would see what he looked like before we decided on Joseph or Kevin. He was too light skinned to be a Joseph so Kevin it was!

Now we have no clue with the new baby. I like Michael for a boy, as does Lynn, but we're not sold on it. As for a girl, we cannot come to any agreement. So I went to the Social Security website to see what people are naming their kids these days and was surprised that all of the boy's names are "normal." It looks like people are moving away from the unique names to go more traditional (I agree with that, stick with the "traditional" names). The number one boys name in 2009 was Jacob and Michael was number two. For girls, Emma was number one.

I want to make sure the baby has a nice Irish name like Kevin: Kevin Michael Flaherty. Any suggestions out there?

Happy birthday Norman

So today would have been Norman Rockwell's 116th birthday. In his honor, Google's front page has one of his paintings. See it here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Patrick = Fraud

So next time Gov. Deval Patrick tells you that President Obama's stimulus package created and saved thousands of jobs in Massachusetts, ask him the sector in which those jobs were created - the private or the public. He'll stutter and stammer and obfuscate but the proof is in the pudding.

The governor has bragged that 4,722 jobs were created in 2009...but over 3,000 of those were just teachers and education officials. Where is the private sector growth? And what is going to happen in this fiscal year when that funding isn't there for teachers? LAYOFFS and we're right back to where we started.

Gee, thanks Gov. Patrick, you're doing a heck of a job.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Boycott Sears

So our freezer and fridge are so busted that we're using our freezer as a fridge. It's 32 degrees in our freezer and around 48 in the fridge! Milk won't even freeze in the freezer.

So we bought a new fridge at Sears in Chelsmford yesterday and we got a message last night that they would deliver it between 4:15 and 6:15 today. Perfect, I'd be home. But, I got home today and there was a message saying there was a "delay." I called them and they said there was a problem with the order and they would call me within 24-48 hours with a new delivery time! Now I never get mad at stuff like this with the people but I snapped. "24-48 hours?? I need a new fridge! You're going to make me wait just for a call back??" So, I guess we'll continue to live with a broken fridge. $20 says they call back and say they'll deliver the fridge at something like 10am when no one is home.

I will never purchase another major item from Sears. I bought my TV and an AC from Sears but I am done now.

Good work guys.

Baker kick-off

Charlie Baker and his running mate, Richard Tisei, had a campaign rally at Fanueil Hall on Saturday. I guess about 800 people showed up to support him.

His campaign put together a nice video from the event, looked like fun: