Salem Community Patriot May 27, 2011 - 3
The Word Around Town... Letters to our Editor
United we stood throughout the country; the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was dead. One week later, the government in Washington turned back to bickering among themselves. Most Republicans want to put a cap on spending and curb taxpayers’ government waste, then turn back long- term debt of $14-plus trillion, a measure of spending that is out of control, without disrupting Medicare! On the other hand, Democrats and President Obama want to add more spending by cutting some small programs, leaving Obamacare Medicare costs, raising the debit even higher.
If more money is spent
and the debt limit is raised, then the credit rating company (Standard and Poor) have indicated we could have our U.S. Bonds rated down. This means we might go into default or higher interest rates will have to be paid to countries like China and Brazil. A very fast compromise is necessary by both parties to avoid this disaster coming upon us soon, if action to avoid is not taken. We Americans need not see our nation go into default! This stubborn situation needs to be solved. Hindsight is great, but instead of blaming each other, we need level- headed, capable statesmen to solve this situation. The question is will their personal vanity or pride get in the way of their Constitutional duties to keep the country strong and from defaulting? This measure could set off a dangerous series of events for all Americans! Let us believe we have real gutsy people willing to make the right decisions very soon! Call your Congress people and President Obama; ask them to save the nation by reducing spending on programs and by reducing the currency supply, now flooding the nation by eroding the American dollar value.
Ed Brooks - Salem
Selectmen Address Fire Department Shifts
by S. Aaron Shamshoyan
Selectmen discussed 24-hour shifts for the fire department Monday night, with an update coming from Fire Chief Kevin Breen. The new system of 24- hour shifts went into effect in April 2010, explained Breen. “We’ve cut our exposure for hold-over, the cost for hold-over, in half,” he said. “To date, as fire chief, I continue to monitor the use of overtime,” said Breen, explaining the fire department was able to reduce its 2011 budget by $50,000 because of the new system. The new-style shifts call for a firefighter to be on duty for 24 hours, then be off for at least that long, and then back on another shift. Due to a staggered schedule, over an eight-week period a firefighter will work 42 hours a week. Previously, a line man would work either two 10-hour shifts with only a 14-hour break in between, or two 14-hour night shifts with only 10 hours in between. This schedule would alternate for the firemen.
Selectman Stephen Campbell raised concerns for safety and the length of the shift.
“I am very concerned
about someone working or being on duty for 24 hours, then making a mistake,” he said. Chief Breen said a roster of assignments was monitored, allowing for men to be shifted to less tolling assignments after active days. Chairman Beth Roth said that in previous experience as a nurse, she learned the most important thing for sleep deprivation is an eight-hour rebound sleep.
Selectmen agreed to keep the system in place, and Chief Breen said he received positive feedback from employees.
Food Drive Appreciation Thank you once again to all who participated
in the Post Office Carriers’ food drive, “Stamp Out Hunger,” especially the carriers themselves. Because of generosity of Salem residents, the pantries are able to continue helping families in need. It is encouraging to see how generous people can
be, even though economic times are hard and most have to watch their budget very closely. Those of us who work at Saints Mary and Joseph Food Pantry are finding that people are actually more generous when they themselves are having a harder time to make ends meet. I believe it is in times like these that people can more deeply empathize with those who are unemployed or underemployed and they make an effort to go the extra mile for them. So, once again, we thank the Post Office carriers and especially Steve Godin, the coordinator, for committing themselves to this effort every year. We look forward to working with you in the coming years.
Deacon David Costello, St. Joseph Food Pantry - Salem
Selectmen Deny SB2, Local Resident Fights Back
by S. Aaron Shamshoyan Salem resident Everett McBride is looking to obtain 715 signatures in order to put Senate Bill 2 (SB2) on the ballot in March. “It gives people, I think, more control,” he said, referring to changes SB2 would make in the voting process. The current charter calls for a three-session town meeting, First Deliberative Session, Voting day in March, and then Second Deliberative Session. Adopting SB2 would eliminate a Second Deliberative Session.
McBride brought his proposal to Selectmen, who could vote to place SB2 on the ballot, eliminating the need for signatures, but Selectmen had concerns and voted 3-2 against the idea during their May 9 meeting, with Selectmen Campbell and Hargreaves in the minority. Selectman Lyons felt it was not his position to approve it. “I think it should come from the people,” he said. Chairman Beth Roth felt the change wouldn’t be enough. “I would be in favor of a more significant change,” she said.
In an interview, Selectman Susan Covey felt she was rushed on the board. “I
was confused why we were rushing to a decision,” she said. Selectman Covey said she was also opposed to the bill because of troubles it causes with the school’s budget. (The school district currently uses SB2.) The formula used to calculate the default budget often creates one higher then the proposed operating budget, she said. “Going to SB2 format, we just accept a different form of faults,” she said. She felt amendments to the current charter could improve what is already in place. “It is our form of government, and I think there are ways to improve it,” she said. She felt the petition was a reaction to the significant tax rate increase from the past Second Deliberative Session and said limitations could be placed to prevent that in the future. She also feared losing local control to amend the charter since it would be dictated by the state. Selectman Covey also felt that the recent Charter Committee voted not to change the town’s charter, and that this would be “two bites at the apple.”
McBride has a goal to obtain 1,200 signatures to guarantee the town clerk can certify enough. If he is successful, the petition will be placed on the ballot in March to be voted on. Success in March would mean the new charter would take effect in 2013, and Second Deliberative Session would not be held. Currently, three different forms of charter are used throughout the state, Town Meeting, City, and SB2, with the state divided fairly evenly among them, said McBride.
As of Monday, McBride said he had already received over 300 signatures. To sign the petition, McBride asks to be contacted by phone, 893-2031; e-mail, email@example.com
; or on Facebook.
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