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Chit-Chat - Week of Dec. 26, 2011

Happy Holidays!
Chit-Chat - Week of Dec. 26, 2011

    Hello, and welcome to Weekly Chit-Chat, the most popular internet forum in Wareham. All viewpoints are welcome here. Please feel free to discuss issues that are important to you, your family and your friends. If you want spin, look elsewhere. This is where Wareham comes to learn the truth!

   BREAKING NEWS (updated at 7:15 p.m.): Accident Mystery Resolved - No Wareham Police officers involved in Wednesday morning crash; media reports incorrect. For more, please come inside this thread.

   Wareham tax rate approved; tax bills can be sent on-time! For more, please come inside this thread!

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/TaxrateRecap_310_2012.pdf

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Levy_limit.pdf

    Please join us tonight (Monday, Dec. 26, 7 p.m.) for LIVE CHAT!

 
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303 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Dec. 19, 2011

Tis the season ...
Chit-Chat - Week of Dec. 19, 2011

   Hello, and welcome to Weekly Chit-Chat, the most popular internet forum in Wareham. All viewpoints are welcome here. Please feel free to discuss issues that are important to you, your family and your friends. If you want spin, look elsewhere. This is where Wareham comes to learn the truth! 

    No injuries reported in scary Christmas Day crash on Glen Charlie Road. For more, please come inside.

    Upper Cape Cod Voc Tech teacher charged with raping student. 

    The Commissioner of Revenue has determined that the locally assessed values of real and personal property in Wareham represent full and fair cash valuation as of Jan. 1, 2011 for fiscal year 2012 and that these proposed property assessments satisfy the minimum requirements for certification. The tax rate can now be set! For more, please come inside!

    Myles Burke addresses his status as Director of Inspectional Services. For more, please come inside.

    Please join us on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. for LIVE BLOGGING during the selectmen meeting. It should be good!

    Police arrest suspect in Sunoco Station fight. For more, please come inside.

    Tragic accident claims the life of 21-year-old Bobby Levine. For more, please come inside.

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339 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Dec. 12, 2011

Jolly happy souls ...
Chit-Chat - Week of Dec. 12, 2011

   Please join us tonight (Sunday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m.) for LIVE CHAT, the most popular internet forum in Wareham. All viewpoints are welcomed here! Please join us in debating the issues that are important to you, your family and your friends! 

   To read Town Administrator Mark Andrews' "Budget Message" for FY12, please click the link below. The budget is preliminary and will likely see many changes throughout the budget cycle, but the following is the opening salvo:

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/FY13.Budget.Message.pdf

    Please join us tonight as we do a little LIVE BLOGGING during the join selectmen/FinCom meeting regarding the audit, starting Wednesday at 7 p.m.!

    Wareham police arrest stabbing suspect with help of state SWAT team. For more, please come inside this thread!

    Powers & Sullivan 2011 Audit now available. Please click on the links below!

    http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Wareham_FY11_Draft_MGMT_letter_12-9.pdf

     http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Draft_Wareham_FY2011_SEFA.pdf

     http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Draft_20Wareham_20FY2011_20BFS.pdf

    Town sets single tax rate. For more, please come inside!

   Wareham Week publisher caught in a great, big lie. For more, please come inside this thread!

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631 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Dec. 5, 2011

Wareham robbery suspect Clifford Mignault
Chit-Chat - Week of Dec. 5, 2011

   Please join us tonight (Sunday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m.) for LIVE CHAT, the most popular internet forum in Wareham. All viewpoints are welcome here. Please share you thoughts on issue that matter to you and your community! 

   Police arrest alleged drug dealer in Onset. For more, please carpet cleaning houston tx come inside this thread!

   Suspect arrested in early morning robbery attempt at Mayflower Liquors. For more, please come inside this thread!

   Selectmen meeting turns ugly with carpet cleaning dallas multiple shouting matches; police summoned to break things up in hallway. For more, please come inside this thread to read LIVE BLOGGING of one of the wildest selectmen meetings ever.  

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494 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Nov. 28, 2011

Police seek this possible accomplice in Pepin Liquor robbery
Chit-Chat - Week of Nov. 28, 2011

    Please join us tonight (Sunday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m.) for LIVE CHAT, the most popular internet forum in Wareham. All viewpoints are welcome here. Please share you thoughts on issue that matter to you and your community!

    BREAKING NEWS: Two charged with DUI in new how to make money on ebay Wareham accident. For more, please come inside this thread!

   Three-car collision at the intersection of Sandwich Road and Cranberry Highway leaves two injured. For more on this story, please come inside.

   Wareham Board of Health bans tobacco Free itunes gift card codes sales at Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid and CVS. Talk about it here!

    Armed robbery at Pepin's Liquor in West Wareham. For more, please come inside this thread!

    Police seek suspect in Speedy Mart armed robbery. For more, come inside this thread!

    Barney Frank will not seek re-election in 2012. Share your thoughts inside this thread!

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320 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Nov. 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!
Chit-Chat - Week of Nov. 21, 2011

    Please join us tonight (Sunday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m.) for LIVE CHAT, the most popular internet forum in Wareham. All viewpoints are welcome here. Please share you thoughts on issue that matter to you and your community!

    BREAKING NEWS: Armed robbery in Wareham, victim injured. For more, please come inside this thread!

   A vehicle crashed into the CVS stocks to watch Pharmacy on Cranberry Highway in East Wareham, injuring at least two people around 10 p.m. on Tuesday. One victim seriously injured, driver cited in crash. For more on this developing story, please come inside this thread.

    A message from the executive director of the Gateway Chamber of Commerce has been posted inside this free instagram followers thread. For more, please come inside!

    Wareham firefighters to be honored during state ceremony for their heroism. For more, please come inside this thread! 

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293 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Nov. 14, 2011
Chit-Chat - Week of Nov. 14, 2011

    Please join us tonight, Sunday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. for LIVE CHAT, the most popular internet forum in Wareham. All viewpoints are welcomed here. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you! 

    School Committee rips Andrews, selectmen for forming new school transportation study group. Discuss the issue inside this thread!

    Police cite three students for possession during drug sweep at Wareham High School. For more, please come inside this thread.

    Attacks on new Gateway Chamber of Commerce prove unfounded. For more, please come inside this thread!

    For Gateway's Articles of Organization, please click the link below:

    http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Gatway_pdf.pdf

    Excessive Coliform Bacteria in Wareham Fire District Water. For more, please come inside this thread.

    Please join us as we engage in a little LIVE BLOGGING during tonight's selectmen meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. (Tuesday, Nov. 15).

    Frank DeFelice appointed to Board of Health despite strong protests. Discuss the issue here!

    For more on DeFelice, please click this link:

    http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/img003.pdf

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404 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Nov. 7, 2011

Let's talk!
Chit-Chat - Week of Nov. 7, 2011

    Please join us tonight (Nov. 13) at 7 for LIVE CHAT, the most popular internet forum in Wareham. All viewpoints are welcome! Just come inside this thread and share your viewpoints on any subject under the sun!

   Wareham police make multiple drug arrests on Thursday. For more, please click "read more" and enter this thread!

   Wareham police bust alleged heroin dealer in Onset. For more, please come inside this thread!

    Please join us tonight for a little LIVE BLOGGING during tonight's selectmen meeting (Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.)!

    New congressional maps released; Barney Frank will no longer represent Wareham. For more, please come inside this thread!

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258 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Oct. 31, 2011

I am not a cartoon character!
Chit-Chat - Week of Oct. 31, 2011

    Please join us for LIVE CHAT, on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.! All viewpoints are welcome here. Please join the discussion on the most popular internet forum in Wareham! 

    Lynne Road residents drop lawsuit regarding group home. Discuss the subject inside this thread!

    Driver injured in crash with former Wareham police chief cleared of charges.

    Fire destroys top floor of apartment building at 298 Main St., which is owned by Finance Committee member Dominic Cammarano. For more, come inside this thread!

   Please join us for a little LIVE BLOGGING during Tuesday night's selectmen meeting, beginning at 7 p.m.!

    Town sends out proper bids, rehires same accounting firm. For more, please coming inside!

   Accounting firm withdraws following bid controversy. For more, please see the link below:

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Andrews.pdf 

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393 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Oct. 24, 2011

Sick of the politics
Chit-Chat - Week of Oct. 24, 2011

   Please join us for LIVE CHAT, which will  begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30! All viewpoints are welcome here. Please share your thoughts on matters that concern the community on the most popular internet forum in Wareham! 

   Controversy erupts over actions of Board of Health associate member Frank DeFelice. For more, please read the letter on the following link:

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/img003.pdf

   Powers and Sullivan has provided an update to its financial audit. For more, please click the link below:

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Powers_&_Sullivan_audit_update_2.pdf

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256 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Oct. 17, 2011

Just the facts!
Chit-Chat - Week of Oct. 17, 2011

   Please join us on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. for LIVE CHAT, the most popular internet forum in Wareham. All viewpoints are welcome. Please add your voice to the debate!

    BREAKING NEWS: Town hires accounting firm to take over accounting department! For more, please come inside.

   BREAKING NEWS: Board of Health meeting postponed after fire marshall rules too many people in town auditorium!

    To see the Board of Health's proposed new nitrogen removal regulations, please click on the link below!

    http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Draft_regulations_for_nitrogen_removal.pdf

   BREAKING NEWS: Observer interviews alleged con man Gerald Unger!

   BREAKING NEWS: Selectmen rip JC Engineering for sending out postcards with bogus septic regulation claims! For more, come inside!

  Observer acquires shocking RMV school bus failure reports! For more, please come inside this thread!

   Town e-mails acquired through a public records request now being posted! Please come inside!

   Proof that the Department of Environmental Protection approved the 2002 Wareham Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (evidence provided midway through document): 
   From The Office of Environmental Affairs (Paragraph 5) - "In addition, the Town of Wareham filed a Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP) with MEPA (EPEA # 12562) and DEP in March, 2002, identifying priority sewage needs areas for connection to sewer." 

http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/DEP_proof_of_2002_Wastewater_Management_Plan.pdf

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432 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Oct. 10, 2011
Chit-Chat - Week of Oct. 10, 2011

    Please join us for LIVE CHAT, which will begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16. This is the place for folks to offer their viewpoints on any subject without the fear of being personally attacked for it. Please feel free to join the most popular internet forum in Wareham!

   BREAKING NEWS: The State Ethics Commission is now investigating a formal complaint against Selectmen Steve Holmes and Cara Ann Winslow for attempting to use their political positions to pressure the town's Inspection Services Department into issuing building permits before complete inspections were conducted.

   BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Pedestrian killed in Cranberry Highway accident. For more, come inside this thread.

   BREAKING NEWS: Plan reportedly underway for town to take Bay Poite Country Club by eminent domain. For more, come inside this thread!

   BREAKING NEWS: A total of 14 Wareham School buses out of 37 fail RMV inspections in August/September inspection period. How is this allowed to continue? For more, please come inside this thread!

   Wareham police bust pot-growing operation in Onset! For more, step inside!

   Wareham Cooperative School principal William Plasko accused of sexual assault in Norwood, placed on leave in Wareham. For more, please enter this thread.

   Murder suspect arrested in Wareham! For more, please come inside!

   Wareham police arrest 38 in town-wide crime sweep!

   Onset woman charged with kidnapping in case of missing 6-year-old. For more, come inside!

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456 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Oct. 3, 2011
Chit-Chat - Week of Oct. 3, 2011

   Please join us tonight (Sunday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.) for LIVE CHAT! All viewpoints are welcome! There is a lot to talk about, so come inside this thread and join the most popular forum in Wareham!

   BREAKING NEWS: Rape suspect arrest in Wareham! For more, please see inside this thread!

   Cara Ann Winslow pressures inspectional services to help a friend! Read more inside!

  Come inside to read a letter to the editor from the mother of the little boy left on a Wareham school bus! 

   Please join us on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. for a little live blogging during the selectmen meeting! 

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434 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Sept. 26, 2011
Chit-Chat - Week of Sept. 26, 2011

   Please join us for LIVE CHAT, which will begin Sunday night, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m.! All viewpoints are welcome. Please join us as we seek civil debate on issues affecting you and your community!

   BREAKING NEWS: Please click the link below for the Inspector General's report on the Wareham Free Library:

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/wareham_free_library_2011.pdf

    Please join us for Tuesday night's selectmen meeting as we will do a little live blogging!

   Breaking News: The FBI is investigating Selectman Steve Holmes' alleged involvement with the false claims of racism levied last year against Police Chief Rick Stanley by former White Pines Motel owner John D'Italia. For more, come inside this thread!

   Breaking News: Shocking e-mails between Selectman Steve Holmes and inspectional services! For more, please come inside this thread!

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585 opinions posted

The giant hole at the heart of the library investigation

In This Corner - Robert Slager
The giant hole at the heart of the library investigation


    Over the past few days there has been a great deal of discussion on this web site, as well as others, regarding the results of the Inspector General’s investigation into allegations of wrong-doing at the Wareham Free Library. Although I have engaged in that discussion at length on this web site, I wasn’t planning on writing a column about the issue until I read a comment by selectman Cara Ann Winslow on Wareham Week in which she attempted to completely dismiss the gaping hole inside the investigation.

    “No one keeps records forever,” she wrote.

   After picking my jaw off the floor it suddenly occurred to me why political partisans such as Winslow do not want people to actually examine the core problem with the Inspector General’s investigation. Those who have actually read the report have learned that virtually no financial records exist regarding the Wareham Free Library prior to 2001.

    That’s right. All those records are gone. There are no records of what books were ordered with your tax dollars. There are no records of what books were on the shelves. There are no records of whatever became of those books. According to testimony given by former library trustee Hazel Taber in court a few years ago, when she first became a trustee “The finances of the library were zilch and the records, the financial records, were in very, very poor form.”
   She later clarified that statement, saying “The trustee's funds were in sad affairs ... I remember when I first became a trustee, this one man had resigned. This man took over and he had a horrible time just finding receipts, finding deposits. The bookkeeping was just horrible.”

    That is the inconvenient truth people like Winslow do not want you to know. The reason allegations of embezzlement against former library director Mary Jane Pillsbury could not be proven is because most of the records from the 1990s – the period when the embezzlement scheme was allegedly at its peak - are gone. They just disappeared or were never created in the first place. Where were these records supposed to be stored? They were supposed to be stored at the Wareham Free Library under the “watchful” eye of Mary Jane Pillsbury.

    The lack of record-keeping at the library became such a concern that town meeting voters decided to transfer all town records to the town clerk’s office a few years ago.

    During the course of the Inspector General’s investigation I was interviewed twice, the first time in December of 2009 and again in August of 2010. During the second interview I was told that the allegations could not be “proven nor disproven” because of the lack of records from the 1990s. I already knew that because I had filed a public records request through the town accountant’s office for those records. I was told by the town accountant that after an extensive search by her office those records could not be found.

    As I first stated in a column written in November of 2009, two former library trustees claimed that from 1995 to 2005 more than $3 million was laundered from the Wareham Free Library under the direction of former director/selectman Mary Jane Pillsbury, who died in 2008. At least 123 people were reportedly involved in a highly sophisticated operation in which large portions of private donations were returned immediately to the donors, who in turn declared 100 percent of the donation on their tax returns. The amount kicked-back to the donor in cash varied from 50 to 75 percent, depending on the amount of the donation. The greater the donation, the higher the percentage would be. Many donors preferred making frequent smaller donations so not to alert the attention of the Internal Revenue Service.

     As much as $1.5 million was allegedly embezzled from the library during that time period in order to replenish the money given back to donors. This was done several ways. Some of the money came from “used” book sales sponsored by the Wareham Free Library. Many of those books were not “used,” however. They came off the selves at the Wareham Free Library, many just purchased with money from the library budget. To cover her tracks, Pillsbury reordered those books in the next budget cycle. She then simply stopped keeping inventory records of individual books purchased with taxpayer money by the library.

    Once this happened new library books were sold at cut-rate prices to private residents outside of organized book sales. Most of the money from this was channeled into an interest-bearing private account, with Pillsbury personally taking a 10 percent cut of the each deposit and 100 percent of the interest.

    Another source of revenue came from money residents spent using the copy machines. For more than 10 years most of that money was never recorded with the town. It was collected and put into the same private accountant, with Pillsbury again taking her 10 percent cut and collecting the entire amount of interest.
    I wrote about all of this nearly two years ago.

    State investigators weren’t able to find evidence of this because no physical evidence exists. In the report the IG’s office acknowledged that the town has no records of book orders prior to 2003. The SAILS library network has no inventory records for the Wareham Free Library prior to 2001. There is no record of how many books were declared as “surplus” by the library. There is no record of what books the Friends of the Wareham Free Library received from the library for book sales. There are no records of what happened to revenue generated through the library copy machines in the 1990s. In fact, two people interviewed by state investigators claimed that A-1 Copy Inc. serviced the copy machines during that time and kept the money. A vice president for A-1 Copy Inc. was interviewed by the IG's office and said his firm has no records of ever doing business with the Wareham Free Library. That should have been a huge red flag, but the IG never went back to question the people who made that claim.

   There is a tremendous amount of spin occurring right now by local political partisans who are claiming that the IG report “exonerated” Pillsbury. The report did no such thing. These allegations couldn’t be proven for two reasons. First, all the records necessary to prove it cannot be found. Second, the two sources behind the story were never contacted by the Inspector General’s office and were brutally harassed into not stepping forward. In fact the day the IG's report was issued an anonymous hateblogger threatened any trustee who might be willing to step forward with enough evidence to reopen the investigation (the IG stated that the case would be reopened if “compelling new evidence” was presented). If the library allegations are untrue, why would it be necessary to try to frighten anyone from stepping forward at this point?

    Last summer one of the former trustees expressed a willingness to testify if she was granted immunity from prosecution. I decided to e-mail that fact to one of the inspectors and never received a reply. After speaking to investigators for the first time in December of 2009 I gave them a list of 20 or so people to contact. More than six months passed before anyone on that list was contacted. The last time I spoke to them was last December when we had a heated discussion after they failed to notify me of a threat made against me by a former trustee. The investigators alerted the Wareham Police Department to this threat, but I only found out about it through a mistake in the police log, which stated that the threat had come from me. The Wareham Police Department admitted their error. A police report on the matter confirms this. I asked the investigators how my primary source could feel confident coming forward when they didn’t even bother to alert me that a former trustee had sent them an e-mail with a threat against me, a threat they considered serious enough to share with the Wareham Police Department but not with me.

    The heart of the allegations wasn’t about copy machines and book sales by the Friends of the Wareham Free Library, as some would have you believe. That was just a very small part of this. As many as 100,000 books allegedly disappeared from the shelves at the Wareham Free Library during the 1990s and were sold to book stores and to private individuals. The reason that can’t be proven is because all the library inventory records are gone.

    Did the investigators do a thorough job in looking into this matter? In my opinion this investigation fell well short of that. A former trustee was willing to step forward in exchange for immunity from prosecution and that offer didn’t even elicit a response from the investigators. They waited six months before interviewing the people I suggested they speak with, and they failed to contact a majority of the people on that list. The investigators acknowledged in their report that they never even conducted a forensic audit of the finances of library fund-raising groups, even after the town administrator publicly questioned the accounting procedures of one of those groups.

   What I believe happened is that the woefully understaffed IG’s office realized that with so many records missing they faced a daunting task in putting the puzzle together. According to former library trustee Elizabeth Pezzoli and former acting library director Marcia Griswold, the inspectors brushed aside their testimony because neither had “first-hand knowledge” of the allegations even though they offered circumstantial evidence. The investigators put relentless pressure on me to reveal my sources, going as far as demanding that I turn over the notes of an interview I had with one of them. I refused because I had sworn to protect this woman's identity. When I first spoke to the investigators I was advised by an attorney to only provide the inspectors copies of stories I had written and to discuss only things that had already been published. Otherwise I could have been called as a witness in court, which would put me in the position of having to reveal my sources or be found in contempt of court as Massachusetts does not have a "shield law" which protects journalists from revealing their sources.

    Instead of issuing a report that basically said they didn’t want to take the steps necessary to see the investigation through, the IG’s office tried to force some closure on the matter by taking the word of people associated with the library about things that happened nearly 15 years ago, regardless of the fact that no physical evidence exists to prove or disprove the allegations. Instead of doing a forensic audit, investigators simply accepted financial documents handed to them by people associated with library fund-raising groups without ever considering that money could have been channeled through other accounts. The IG accepted the claim of the current library director that the copy machines generate less than $1,000 a year but ignored that fact that the Friends of the Wareham Free Library listed copy machine revenue at $10,000 a year on their tax returns. There are more holes in the IG's report than in a slice of Swiss cheese.

   Some people in the community are asking me to apologize for my reporting on this issue. They are saying the town needs to heal from this. If Wareham wishes to heal then it needs to be brutally honest about what this report really means. The allegations could not be proven because under the care of Mary Jane Pillsbury all the inventory records from the 1990s simply vanished. That can’t simply be dismissed by saying “No one keeps records forever.”

 

http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/wareham_free_library_2011.pdf

 

 

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In This Corner - Robert Slager - 17 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Sept. 19

Please come inside for some milk and cookies!
Chit-Chat - Week of Sept. 19

   LIVE CHAT will begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25, inside this thread! Please join us. It's been a wild week in Wareham. All viewpoints are welcome!

   BREAKING NEWS: Former teacher sues school superintendent for discrimination. For more, click on the link below and then come inside to talk about it!:

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/img002.pdf

   BREAKING NEWS: Wareham school bus driver fired for leaving Kindergartener on bus. For more, come inside!

   Tobey Hospital sued follow death of patient. Why aren't the local papers covering it? For more, come inside.

   Come inside to read the letter to the editor that Wareham Week refused to run!

   For 2011 Fall Town Meeting Warrant, please click this link!

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Fall_202011_20TM_20Warrant.pdf 

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557 opinions posted

Breaking News: A message from Sheila Schneider

   
   Sheila Schneider, the wife of selectman Michael Schneider, has sent the Observer the following message (which is being published by permission of the Schneider family): 

   Mr. Slager, I am writing to let you know that the Schneider family is ok. I should know because I am Mrs. Schneider. While I have considered Wareham my home for almost 20 years now I have been deeply affected by the level of hatred that spews from those that will stop at no end to destroy people’s lives and their livelihoods simply because they are trying to do the right thing for the town. The problem is you can fight all you want and never win because these people are so entrenched within our town’s government and so connected and willing and able to use those connections to make your life a living hell but I don't need to tell you that. Just take a look at who some of our elected officials and their friends are.
   
I advertised my business in your newspaper because my husband asked me to. He wanted others to know that there were people in this community that were willing to stand with others that believed in “freedom of speech.” Because of that my business was boycotted. The boycott of my business was supported if not started by some of those very same public officials that preach how the town needs economic development. Look no further than the selectmen’s seats to see who the boycott was supported by. Neither my husband nor I gave in. My husband spoke out in support of affordable housing for seniors at town meeting, and the next day people were looking to find whether my business was licensed to operate in the town (of course I was). I don’t think I have to tell whose friends it were that were trying to figure out a way to shut me down, do I, Mr. Slager?
   
Shortly after my husband was on the transportation committee his hours were cut by his employer (another transportation company) ultimately to no hours over the summer. Funny thing is that I was told by more that one person that my husband's job along with that of a friend that he worked with was being targeted. I chose to believe that people could not be that warped. I was dead wrong! As I know that you know, we live in a town where even the schools are used as weapons. My girls were harassed to the point that I needed to drive them to school on a daily basis, not to say that big joe bean bag I did not want to drive them and my son had false charges made against him by a member of the fire department who also works for the schools (the charges were thrown after an investigation by a private investigator). My children endured what they did because of their father’s involvement with the school bus issue and some of the other issues that he has tried to address for the town 
  
As for our financial status well, it is what it is … when your business is no longer making money and you lose your job there is no money to pay the credit card. That’s not to say we would not like to. While I fully stand behind my husband's decision to sit as a selectman, my children are my first priority and I am not willing to risk my 17 year old having a record or my daughters well being. The past 16 months have cost our family dearly. Another FYI, I have never blogged (you know me not!) but seeing some of the things that are written and allowed to be written on various web sites including Wareham Week by cowards whose only purpose is to destroy peoples lives, I am overcome with disgust and just can’t put into words how it makes me feel to know that some of these people actually raise children. 
   
These people have gone after so many others and destroyed their lives. They even had the audacity to go after a police chief and the police officers who supported him. 
  
Now you know. 

   Sheila Schneider   

   Note: Sheila Schneider has not yet responded to a question about her husband's status as a Wareham selectman.

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135 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Sept. 12, 2011

Stand together
Chit-Chat - Week of Sept. 12, 2011

   Breaking News: Former Wareham Police Chief Tommy Joyce involved in serious car accident in Wareham. Joyce, now the Fire Chief in Marion, was responding to a fire at the Marion Fire Station. For more, please join LIVE CHAT inside this thread.

  Please join us tonight (Sunday, Sept. 18) at 7 p.m. for LIVE CHAT! All viewpoints are welcome. Just click on the the Weekly Chit-Chat thread and look for the LIVE CHAT alert!

  Thursday: Huge drug bust at Silver Lake Motel. For more, come inside this thread!

  Lynne Road residents fail to get injunction. Talk about it here!

  Winslow tries to kill affordable housing initiative during selectmen meeting! 

  A Plymouth County Grand Jury has indicted a Wayland man on murder charges after a state trooper died eight years after a drunk driving accident on Route 25 in Wareham. Thoughts?

  Is Makepeace behind stalling Westfield? Talk about it here!

  Get the facts about Westfield inside this link:

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/WESTFIELD_20RFP_20FINAL_20832011.pdf   

 

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404 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Sept. 5, 2011
Chit-Chat - Week of Sept. 5, 2011

   Please join us tonight at 7 for a very special LIVE CHAT, where people can share their reflections on this solemn anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.  We must all remember the brave sacrifices of that day and the destruction that hatred can leave behind.

   Wareham Week allows alleged location of Schneider children to be published on its web site. Outrage?

   Share your thoughts on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

   Calling on the Board of Selectmen to denounce the hatred in Wareham, starting with Bill Whitehouse's web site! Talk about it here!
   
   VIDEO OF MICHAEL SCHNEIDER'S DRAMATIC STATEMENT NOW AVAILABLE INSIDE THIS THREAD!

   Mike Schneider returns to Wareham, attends selectmen meeting, refuses to resign, calls for an end to the hatred in Wareham!

   Raynham man dies from EEE.

   Boston Globe: More than two decades of failed oversight have allowed the state’s special education collaboratives to misspend millions of taxpayer dollars, according to the state auditor’s office, which has found a pattern of excessive salaries, conflicts of interest, and possible pension law violations at six of the 30 publicly funded agencies.

   Welcome to this week's installment of Chit-Chat, where all viewpoints are welcome and personal attacks are not allowed. Please pull up a chair and have a seat at the grown-up's table in Wareham!

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559 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Aug. 22/Week of Aug. 29
Chit-Chat - Week of Aug. 22/Week of Aug. 29

 Please join us on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. for LIVE CHAT, which will appear inside this thread! All viewpoints are welcome!

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570 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Aug. 15, 2011

Michael Schneider (right) reportedly set to step down from the Board of Selectmen
Chit-Chat - Week of Aug. 15, 2011

   Please join us for LIVE CHAT, which will take place inside this thread this week beginning Sunday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. Please join the discussion! All viewpoints are welcome!

  Selectmen Steve Holmes shares his views!

  Health Agent Bob Ethier lacks state qualification to perform sanitarian duties! Talk about it here!

  Selectmen hold meeting with no quorum! Share your thoughts!

  Join us in asking Wareham Week to enforce its own terms of service and stop letting anonymous hate bloggers attack private citizens! The hatred has to stop!

   Attorney General rules that Wareham Prudential Committee violated Open Meeting Law. See link below!

   http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Prudential_Committee.pdf

 

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540 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Aug. 8, 2011

Royal flush
Chit-Chat - Week of Aug. 8, 2011

    Please join us for LIVE CHAT, which will take place inside this thread this week beginning Sunday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m. Please join the discussion! All viewpoints are welcome!

   BREAKING NEWS: Selectman Michael Schneider will reportedly resign from the board.

   Sunday night - Bruce Sauvageau will run for selectmen if Walter Cruz seeks re-election. Talk about it in LIVE CHAT!

   New Saturday - Raynham Selectman Joseph Pacheco: "There is no relation between Senator Pacheco and myself."

  Wareham dentist Dr. Steven Miller has been sentenced to two years of probation (with the first six months in home confinement with electronic monitoring by bracelet) and will forfeit $90,000 in cash for illegally dispensing drugs to his patients. Thoughts?

   Wild selectmen meeting Tuesday night! Please come inside and share your thoughts!

     Proof that the Department of Environmental Protection approved the 2002 Wareham Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (evidence provided midway through document): 
   From The Office of Environmental Affairs (Paragraph 5) - "In addition, the Town of Wareham filed a Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP) with MEPA (EPEA # 12562) and DEP in March, 2002, identifying priority sewage needs areas for connection to sewer."

  http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/DEP_proof_of_2002_Wastewater_Management_Plan.pdf

 

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373 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of Aug. 1, 2011

You can't handle the truth!
Chit-Chat - Week of Aug. 1, 2011


   Please join us for LIVE CHAT, which will take place inside this thread this week beginning Sunday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. It's a bit of an experiment, but so much happened this week it might be helpful to hit the ground running and not have to repeat comments that have already been posted. It will also give some folks the opportunity to catch up on current events. Please join in! All viewpoints are welcome!

 Breaking News: Zaleski hired as new town accountant in Rayhnam.

 Please read the truth about the town's nitrogen issues and the need to expand the sewer system:

Nitrogen Consensus Report:

 http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Nitrogen_consensus.pdf

 2002 Wareham Waste Water Management Plan:

 http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Wareham_Wastewater_Management_Plan.pdf

 

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366 opinions posted

Chit-Chat - Week of July 25, 2011 (Come inside for LIVE CHAT on Sunday, July 31 at 7 p.m.)

On the hot seat
Chit-Chat - Week of July 25, 2011 (Come inside for LIVE CHAT on Sunday, July 31 at 7 p.m.)

  Please join us for LIVE CHAT, which will take place inside this thread this week beginning Sunday, July 31, at 7 p.m. It's a bit of an experiment, but so much happened this week it might be helpful to hit the ground running and not have to repeat comments that have already been posted. It will also give some folks the opportunity to catch up on current events. Please join in! All viewpoints are welcome!

   Breaking News: Zaleski gets her job back, but agrees to resign following $42,000 settlement. Please see the following link:

"http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/Zaleski_termination_ruling.pdf

 

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332 opinions posted

LIVE CHAT!
LIVE CHAT!

    Please join us tonight (Sunday, July 24) at 7 p.m. for LIVE CHAT! All viewpoints are welcome!

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181 opinions posted

Myth Busting!
Myth Busting!

   With so many outright lies and distortions being hurdled about Wareham right now, the Observer has decided to bring the "Myth Busting" thread out of mothballs in order for readers to specifically deal with the misinformation stated elsewhere. Please feel free to jump in.

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84 opinions posted

Please fight for the promise of Westfield

In This Corner - Robert Slager
Please fight for the promise of Westfield

   There has been so much misinformation regarding Westfield and affordable housing on the Wareham Week web site today that I feel compelled to address some of it.
   F
irst, the bid process was extended a month (over selectman Cara Ann Winslow’s objection) because the RFP Review and Recommendation Committee was supposed to have bids ready to go out on April 1 but delayed the process by four months. Developers had just a few weeks to get their bids in. Anyone who knows anything about development would tell you that you can’t draw up designs and estimate costs on a multi-million dollar residential development in such a short period of time. Wareham Week’s headline stating that Westfield drew little interest from developers would never have been allowed at any self-respecting newspaper because it is a gross distortion of the truth.
  
While it is true that developers wouldn’t make as much profit on a senior affordable-housing development as they would with unlimited rents or units for sale, in this depressed real estate market a developer would be crazy not to be willing to make some profit rather than none at all.
  
Westfield would draw nearly $5 million in tax revenue to the town over the next 15 years without overburdening social services such as the school district and public safety. Generally speaking, economically challenged seniors don’t usually have school-age children and pack .357 magnums in their coat pockets. Of all affordable housing options, Westfield is by far the most logical. HUD has guarantees management of the facility in the event that the builder defaults. The buy instagram likes builder is also required to construct and maintain baseball and soccer fields nearby, which will take the burden off the already overburdened Municipal Maintenance Department and will help address the issue of sparse field availability for young athletes
  
There is no other alternative for these seniors. Anyone who has ever seen Agawam Village knows that for a fact. The state doesn't have the funds to repair Agawam Village, and it is nowhere near big enough to address the affordable-housing shortage for local senior citizens.
  
The reason people are attacking affordable housing right now, and Westfield in particular, is because it actually would help the town address its 40B mandate from the state. Essentially the state requires towns in the Commonwealth to have 10 percent of its affordable housing stock deemed “affordable” per a somewhat complicated formula designed by the state. Wareham is well shy of that figure at the moment. Because of that developers are allowed to supersede local zoning board ordinances while constructing affordable housing.
  
Developers don’t want the town to reach its 40B mandate because when the town reaches that threshold developers will have to spend more money (or make less profit) having to adhere to zoning regulations. They don’t want Westfield for two reasons – it would move the town closer to its 40B mandate and would prefer the town sell the parcel for private non-restricted development at a relatively cheap rate. So what they are doing is trying to make it seem like the town’s financial situation is so bad that the town really doesn’t have any other choice.
   
Wareham is facing tough economic challenges, but those challenges aren’t much different than many other communities in the Commonwealth. Yes, the recreation department was closed a few years ago. The library had its hours cut. Some Municipal Maintenance workers lost their jobs. But there hasn’t been the kind of big layoffs others communities have been forced to make. The town has funded its non-discretionary line items to state standards. Discretionary spending has continued for things such as the library and the Counsel on Aging. The town’s bond rating remains strong.
  
Yes, something will have to give during the next budget cycle. Tough choices will need to be made. But these are the same tough choices being made in communities throughout the Commonwealth.
  
I truly believe that the majority of anonymous bloggers on Wareham Week are either town employees (or their family members) or are connected to the real estate business. Their comments aren’t random. Rather they are part of a political agenda to turn everyone against certain town officials in order to appease developers, protect town jobs, and put friends into positions of authority.
  
The recent discussion over affordable housing on Wareham Week is no accident. It began as soon as the bidding process for the Westfield development finally got underway. All the rhetoric right now is to encourage members of the Board of Selectmen to deny all bids for Westfield. It is also intended to shield members of the Board of Selectmen from future criticism if they do, in fact, kill the Westfield development in the bidding stage.
  
Passing Westfield at Town Meeting last November was a giant step forward for Wareham. The landslide vote (165-32) showed that people in Wareham truly do care about the safety, security and peace-of-mind of local senior citizens. It was a day to rejoice in Wareham.
  
Now the developers, hiding behind anonymous screen names, are once again trying to thwart the will of Town Meeting voters in order to pad their wallets.
  
Please fight for Westfield. Please fight for the most vulnerable citizens in the community. If you don't, no one else will.
  
This has to be the line in the sand. If Wareham simply hands the keys over to developers in a state of false panic then Wareham has no right to call itself a community.

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In This Corner - Robert Slager

Reaching the light in the distance

In This Corner - Robert Slager
Reaching the light in the distance


    The first time I slept with my wife was in a room of about 15 people. It’s not what you might think. It was the night of my best friend’s wedding in Concord, California, and Liza, a first cousin of the bride, had flown in for the wedding from Boston. After the reception a group of us ate pancakes at an IHOP at 3 a.m. before heading over the home of the bride’s brother for a short night’s sleep. Once there we drew straws to determine where everyone would sleep.

    Some got the floor. Others got a slice of couch. Liza and I drew the fold-out bed in the middle of the living room.

    I barely knew Liza before that night. I remember praying to the Lord above that I didn’t accidently roll over and crush that poor woman in my drunken sleep. I was literally twice her size.

    When the group finally stirred I turned to Liza and ask if it was good for her, too. Without missing a beat she winked at me and said “the best ever.”

    That’s how I met my wife. We slept together before we knew each other. Literally.

    That could have been the end of it, but fate had other ideas. Liza was scheduled to stay with her aunt for a few days in a small town called Sonora about 50 miles away in the Sierra-Nevada foothills, a community of just over 4,000 residents.

    I happen to be one of them.

    I told Liza to give me a call if she had any free time while staying with her aunt. Lucky for me she did, and I arranged to pick her up at 6 p.m. But I was working as the assistant sports editor of the local paper at the time, and we were putting together our high school football preview section. Soon 6 p.m. turned to 6:30 then to 7. At 7:30 p.m. all hope seemed lost.

    Liza told me not to worry about it. She said just come over whenever I was done.

    When I finally turned the engine over on my old Mustang and prepared to peel out of the parking lot, I noticed sometime unusual.

    The lights weren’t working.

    I beeped the car horn with my head.

    Determined not to stand up the cutest woman I had seen since … well, actually, ever, I decided to drive up a windy mountain road illuminated by a flashlight hanging out the window.

    Hey, I never said I was smart.

    When I finally arrived I told Liza my sad tale, content to just sit and chat with her at her aunt’s house. I couldn’t possibly expect her to drive with me back to town while I held a flashlight out the window.

    Not only was she game, she insisted on holding the flashlight for me.

    Of such things love is born.

    I chased that love all the way to Massachusetts, and 15 years ago today I stood at the altar at St. Anthony’s Church in Falmouth with the woman who had healed my wounded soul. I had known great loss over the previous few years and I had stopped looking for love. But with the grace of her spirit and the curl of her smile, Liza reminded me that in this life all things are possible.

    In 15 years it seems we have lived a lifetime together. We watched our newborn babies fight for their lives in a neo-natal intensive care unit. I developed diabetes. Liza’s oldest friend died suddenly from cancer.

    And then there was the Observer.

    For the better part of five years my wife has nourished the dream of a crazy dreamer, a dream in which truth proves more powerful than money, where a small community newspaper can maintain its journalist integrity in an industry saturated with corporate influence. And for the better part of five years Lisa allowed me to see these things with my own eyes.

    I know it wasn’t easy for her. We’ve had to fight off a completely frivolous lawsuit from the former chief of police. The Observer survived through the worst economic period in our nation since the Great Depression. The paper survived boycotts and a host of other underhanded tactics. I became the target of a relentless internet smear campaign by political partisans designed to drive me away.

    And then there were the threats, some so ugly that I refuse to share them here.

    But the biggest toll the Observer took on Liza was watching the toll it took on me. In February I weighed 238 pounds. My blood sugar level was nearly 500. That is within the coma range. I remember turning to Liza right before my 46th birthday and telling her that I felt like I was dying.

   As its turns out, I was.

   A small scratch on my lower back that I hadn’t even noticed became quickly infected. My entire back swelled up like a balloon. I went to my doctor and was told that if I had waited any longer I would not have made it. The infection had moved to within an inch of my spine.

    I have lost 51 pounds in the last four months. The first 10 or so were due to my new diabetes and heart medication. It made me really sick the first few weeks. The last 40 pounds came off after I went into “Rocky” mode. I didn’t have surgery or go on some unhealthy crash diet. I joined the gym, hired a personal trainer, and have literally been working my bottom off ever since. I never want to experience the pain I felt in February, and I never want my wife and daughters to see me like that again.

    I know Liza’s greatest fear over the past five years was that I would wind up getting hurt. She knew the odds. She knew I could have made a lot more money if I was just willing to play ball with the powers that be in Wareham. But she also knew I would never be willing to do that, because journalism demands more.

    I did get hurt. I internalized the frustration of watching good people get torn to pieces on local web sites for purely political reasons. I swallowed the pain of learning that the good guys don’t always win. I felt the sting of watching a community with such potential being obstructed by the egos of the rich and powerful, as well as by the lonely and desperate souls on the internet searching for an identity to call their own.

    Over the past few months I have repeatedly watched a clip from the final Rocky movie in which the title character tells his son that life isn’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. For a Rocky movie, there’s a lot of wisdom in those words.

    On this day, 15 years after marrying the most wonderful woman on this Earth, it’s time for me to move forward with my own life. It’s time for Liza to put the flashlight down. She allowed me to touch my dream, and that was the most precious gift anyone has ever given me. She deserves to have the same husband she fell in love with, the one with the fire in his eyes who once told her he would always have her back.

    I can’t be that man while living in two different worlds. My life outside of Wareham has grown considerably over the past year. And recently I received word that a Hollywood studio wants to see a full script after reviewing a treatment I sent them. That doesn’t mean my idea will ever make it to the screen. It does mean that I have a script to finish.

    It’s time to say goodbye to a community that I fell in love with the first day I arrived. On that day our van broke down, and a mechanic opened the garage he had just closed for the day and got my family back on its way. That was the day I knew that Wareham’s heart beat with kindness inside.

    The website, as it’s currently designed, will remain for another week. I will host Live Chat on Sunday. Then I will be heading to Florida for a family reunion to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday. When I return I will re-launch the site as seo firm a place where Wareham residents can offer their viewpoints on town issues. It will, in some respect, by similar to the format that Bill Whitehouse offers, but with rules of decorum. People in Wareham need a place where they can share their thoughts without the fear of personal attacks or being forced to view vile language and childish, offensive imagery. I would be happy to provide such a forum. I might even drop in from time to time to put in my two cents.

    But I cannot continue in my current capacity. Liza has held the light for me for too long. Now it’s time I hold the light for her.

    I am very proud to have witnessed Wareham’s first unsteady steps toward a better future. The town has a great new police chief. Michael Schneider and Ellen Begley will ensure that a measure of dignity and integrity remain on the Board of Selectmen. Local seniors will someday have a place to spend their final years in peace and comfort.

    But most of all people are talking now. Many are still talking “at” each other and not “to” each other, but it is a big step forward. Important issues such as nitrogen pollution, public safety, and transparency in town government have entered the public discussion. And while there is still a gulf that needs to be bridged it has become clear that the voices of bitterness and hatred on the internet no longer hold the interest of the community. The power struggles will undoubtedly continue, but that will recede in time. As more and more people move to the area, more and more voices will demand better for themselves and for their neighbors. It is inevitable.

    I can’t help but think back on that night in Sonora when I was stuck at work and almost missed the chance to spend my life with the woman of my dreams. I can’t help but remember how she told me to just come over when I was done.

    I’m done now, honey. Thank you so very much for waiting.

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In This Corner - Robert Slager - 25 opinions posted

Letter to the Editor from Finance Committee


TO THE EDITOR:

  
The FY 2012 budget is balanced.  If gas prices don’t rise, equipment doesn’t break down and there are no other unforeseen circumstances, Wareham may scrape by for another year.  Those are some pretty big “if’s.” 
   
Those who are familiar with town finances recognize the challenges facing this town.  Wareham operates on a structural deficit.  We aren’t necessarily spending too much – we have a revenue shortage.  There are some line items which could be cut further (streetlights being one of our suggestions based on prior years expenditures - not based on turning off the lights!), but there are many more departments that may not be able to operate fully under the current budget appropriations (municipal maintenance heads that category).  The town has a list of capital needs that dates back ten years and totals in excess of $95 million dollars.  There are heavy obligations (which may range as high as $80 to $100 million) to fund pensions and health care obligations for future retirees.  These are many of the same issues that are being faced at the state and federal levels, but Wareham must find solutions on the local level. 
   
The Administration is already investigating different ways to receive and provide services.  The use of technology to reduce costs, reorganization, and regionalization must all be looked at as part of the solution.  Although we hear catchy buzz words like “community development” and “smart growth” those are long term solutions.  For the short term - two to three years - we need to establish recurring revenues.  We need to start discussions on debt exclusion and the responsible use of an override.  Yes, these measures will raise the tax rate, but they will allow us to maintain a functioning municipal government and provide some level of services to the residents of Wareham.
   
The first step is to formulate a financial management plan for the town.  The Board of Selectmen recently approved guidelines for the Stabilization Fund which outlines the funding of a savings account for the town.  This action will enhance the town’s bond rating and allow us to build up reserves for a rainy day.  We urge the Board of Selectmen and School Department to develop and implement financial Policies and Procedures during the 2012 fiscal year. We urge the Board of Selectmen and the School Department to work with the Town Administrator and the Finance Committee to adopt a comprehensive 5 year financial management plan as required by the Town Charter.   We also recommend the formation of an Audit Committee which would work with our auditors on an annual basis to determine the scope and schedule of the annual audit and periodically during the year measure progress towards correcting accounting weaknesses and other issues addressed in the annual management letter issued by the auditor. 
  
Additionally, the Finance Committee would like to address and clarify some statements made at town meeting.  The FY 2012 budget was balanced in part due to a roughly $1.5 million dollar reduction in the amount held in reserve for employee health insurance.  Town employees will receive a corresponding suspension in premium payments.  This “health care premium holiday” is an emergency measure and is intended as a one-time fix.  Many spoke out against the idea at Town Meeting, but no one offered an alternative, perhaps in recognition that the alternative would result in a significant number of personnel reductions, layoffs, and an unacceptable cut in services within both the town departments and the school system.  Therefore, we felt the health care premium holiday was the better of the poor choices open to the town.
   
We approached the FY2012 budget with the stated goal of working for consensus between the Board of Selectmen, the Town Administrator, the School Department and the Finance Committee.  Lack of timely information, incomplete data, reports with errors, and the inability to access key persons greatly hindered our ability to do our job.  We will not allow this to happen next year.  The work on the FY13 budget begins now.  We invite all concerned citizens to contribute to the process. 

Very truly yours,

 

WAREHAM FINANCE COMMITTEE

 

Donna Bronk, Chair

Marilyn Connors Donahue, Vice Chair

William R.C. White, Clerk

Richard Paulsen

David P. Trudell

Bonnie Jean Cottuli

Dominic A. Cammarano, Jr.

Franklin Heath

Samuel Gray

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1 opinion posted

Department of Revenue financial update for Wareham


   The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has issued the following update on facts and financial figures relative to the Town of Wareham.

http://www.thewarehamobserver.com/photos/E0DCB617.pdf

  

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2 opinions posted

The roadmap to saving Wareham's watershed

In This Corner - Robert Slager
The roadmap to saving Wareham's watershed


    There has been much baffling rhetoric in Wareham’s seemingly ceaseless political battle, but perhaps nothing has been quite so puzzling as the response to the recently ruling by the Attorney General’s office regarding last year’s “net-zero” nitrogen bylaw, a bylaw that was repealed during Spring Town Meeting.

    The Attorney General ruled that the language in the bylaw (specifically addressing the definition of “net-zero” nitrogen was unconstitutionally vague and therefore unenforceable. The Attorney General did not state that the concept of the bylaw was in any way legally flawed. This was purely a matter of language. If the term “net-zero” nitrogen was adequately defined the bylaw would have been acceptable.

    The usual political suspects are somehow treating this news as vindication for their opposition to the bylaw. They claim they knew the whole time the bylaw was flawed.

    Nonsense. What they did was dodge a bullet, and they know it.

    In all the arguments made against the bylaw prior to Fall Town Meeting no one ever said

“Hey, define net-zero nitrogen and I’m fine with it.” If there were concerns about the legality of the bylaw, why was it necessary to repeal it before the Attorney General’s office ruled on it? If there was such certainty that the Attorney General would deem a portion of the language unenforceable, why draft an entire warrant article to repeal the bylaw? Their claims that they knew the language was illegal all along just doesn’t jive with the fact they repealed the bylaw when that ultimately proved to be unnecessary.

    There is no vindication here. Opponents of the bylaw wanted it stopped regardless of what the AG’s office ruled. They claimed the bylaw was illegal before anyone knew if that were true. An illegally appointed committee was formed to “assist” the Board of Health in writing regulations. Lies after lies were told by developers and their mouthpieces about an alleged lack of science to support stronger nitrogen regulations.

    This has always been about profit. It has always been about giving developers a free pass, a fact that has been emphasized by the recent political movement to shift responsibility for cleaning up the town’s watershed on mobile home residents. The magnitude of that inequity is difficult to measure.

    Opponents of the bylaw seem to be missing something very important as well – the AG’s office provided a road map on how to craft a new bylaw. Supporters simply have to incorporate a specific definition of “net-zero” nitrogen in order to craft a legally solid bylaw. Now they also have the opportunity to present that definition to the AG’s office before putting the bylaw on a town meeting warrant.

    Every effort possible has been made over the past decade to stop stricter nitrogen pollution regulations from taking hold in Wareham. That’s because it would cost cranberry bog owners and developers money to bring their systems up to standard. Meanwhile, residents are paying insane betterment fees to basically subsidize these industries. Residents are paying to take the nitrogen out of the water while developers and cranberry bog owners are paying nothing to out that nitrogen right back in.

    It is unfortunate that the language in the bylaw wasn’t more thoroughly vetted before going to town meeting floor last fall. But as Wareham learned, there is new-found attention being paid to the nitrogen pollution issue now. Awareness has increased exponentially. For a community that relies on tourism to thrive, damaging the town’s most precious resourse – its waterways – is ultimately self-defeating. Residents are finally waking up to that fact. It's time to put politics aside and work toward a goal that will benefit all Wareham residents for generations to come.

    Now, with a roadmap in hand, true change may finally be on the horizon.

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In This Corner - Robert Slager - 2 opinions posted

Obituary: Eugene Schoenfelder - WWII Silver Star recipient

   Eugene Schoenfelder, of Pinehurst, North Carolina, died on Friday, May 29, at his home. His beloved wife, Mary, originally of St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada, preceded him in death.
  
A visitation will be held from 5 to 7  p.m. on Tuesday, May 31 at Boles Funeral Home in Southern Pines. A memorial service for family and friends will be held at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Pinehurst on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 10 a.m. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date.
  
Mr. Schoenfelder was born in New York City on April 21, 1917. A graduate of Manhattan College, Gene served his country in World War as a Combat Engineer with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Division, U.S. Marine Corps, seeing combat in six operations in the Pacific Theater of the Second World War, at times assigned to Marine Rangers and G2 (Intelligence).
  
As a Major, he was awarded the Silver Star. He was knighted by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, both awards for bravery under fire. He spent two years in combat, returning to the United States, assigned to Washington, DC, to implement combat engineer training between the Marine Corps and the U.S. Army.
  
He worked with the same company his entire professional career. Early on, he spent five years living in Mexico with his young family. Later, he worked all over South America, Africa, Asia and Europe, as Vice President of the International Division initially for American Chicle Company, which was purchased by Warner Lambert Pharmaceuticals/American Optical, now known as Pfizer, Inc.
  
He is survived by his son, Eugene Schoenfelder, Jr., of Pinehurst and his daughter, Cassie Willis of Southern Pines, his grandson Colin and granddaughter Kira, both of Virginia. 
   He was the great-uncle of Observer Media publisher Robert Slager.
   
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Moore Regional Hospital Healing Garden: checks payable to: MRH Foundation (Healing Garden) in the memo line; 150 Applecross Road, Pinehurst, NC 28374.

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8 opinions posted

Some things to ponder about the Zaleski case

In This Corner - Robert Slager
Some things to ponder about the Zaleski case

 
   
After four hours of intense testimony (and a whole lot more still to come), the public hearing regarding the firing of Town Accountant Elizabeth Zaleski provided a fascinating insight into the accounting mess the town now finds itself in. Although the hearing has been continued to an undetermined time and date, Thursday night’s verbal slugfest offered local residents plenty to consider in the coming weeks.
    Let’s take this a step at a time. First, Town Administrator Mark Andrews absolutely should have recused himself as the presiding officer for the hearing, as was requested by Zaleski’s attorneys. The conflict of interest involved here is staggering. Forget for a moment the claim by Zaleski’s attorneys that Andrews fired their client in order to save his own job. No evidence has been provided yet to support such an assertion. Even if Andrews has no personal stake in the outcome of the hearing, he was the person who fired Zaleski. As the hearing officer, he will essentially decide if he did so with or without cause. There is no way he should be in that position.
    Town Counsel Rich Bowen argued that the Town Charter provides the mechanism for employees who wish to appeal the termination of their employment. He also argued that Zaleski knew what that procedure was when she signed her employment contract. Fair enough. But what the Town Charter actually says is that the “appointing authority” should preside over such a hearing. When did the town administrator become the town’s appointing authority?

    This reveals a fundamental problem with the Town Charter, a problem that the Charter Review Committee attempted to address with no success at Town Meeting last year. The term “appointing authority” in the Town Charter is nebulous, and political partisans have been interpreting the term to their advantage for years. We saw that last fall when the Board of Selectmen appointed members of the Westfield RFP Review and Recommendation Committee. Finance Committee Chairman Donna Bronk loudly (and erroneously) complained that the appointing authority is actually the town moderator, the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and the chairman of the Finance Committee. The Town Charter defines two appointing authorities. The Finance Committee, the Capital Planning Committee, the Personnel Board and the Planning Board are chosen by a three-person committee consisting of the town moderator, the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and the chairman of the respective board an applicant wishes to join. All other appointment responsibility falls to the Board of Selectmen. That is why the BOS took the position that the former Board of Library trustees was never properly appointed under the rules of the Town Charter.

    Unfortunately, the term "appointing authority" is often used in isolation in the Town Charter, which has led to confusion throughout the years. But one thing is certain – The charter does not define the town administrator as the appointing authority in any capacity.
    It is baffling that Zaleski’s attorneys didn’t press this issue to a greater extent on Thursday. But, frankly, they didn’t represent their client very well on a number of issues during the first night of the hearing. They repeatedly tried (and failed) to attack the integrity and objectivity of Jim Powers of Powers and Sullivan, the owner of the highly respected municipal audit firm. They tried to twist his words, insisting that he said he had a hand in drafting Zaleski’s termination letter when he clearly stated that he merely pointed out a typographic error after he was sent an e-mail copy of it. Zaleski’s attorneys also said their client had admitted her mistake, even after Powers noted that Zaleski told him that cash had been reconciled when in fact it had not been. They often tried to cut off Powers in mid-sentence when it appeared they didn't like his responses.

    The town didn’t get off easy either on Thursday. It was strongly established that Zaleski inherited an accounting system that had no established policies and procedures, which falls squarely in the lap of former town accountant Robert Bliss. Powers said Zaleski was trying hard to fix the problems she inherited.
    But the most damning part of the hearing occurred when Powers said Zaleski told him that she falsified ledger entries while under pressure to balance the books prior to the audit. Powers called that a “mortal sin” in the accounting world.

    That may prove an insurmountable hurdle in Zaleski’s attempt to get her job back. Yes, she inherited a mess. Yes, she needed help to resolve the issues. But it appears, based on Power’s testimony on Thursday, that she panicked under the pressure and falsified entries in order to close the books. Powers said there is no justification for that.

    Power’s also said that while the town administrator and the Board of Selectmen have oversight authority, the day-to-day accounting responsibility should fall squarely on the shoulders of the town accountant. If, as Powers stated, Zaleski misled people into believing cash had been reconciled when it hadn’t been, Zaleski deserved to be fired.

    Zaleski’s attorneys claimed that their client was fired by Andrews so he could protect his own job. The hearing was continued before they could provide evidence to support that claim. They also claim Andrews was motivated by a letter to the editor by selectman Cara Ann Winslow in which she wrote that Andrews should either fire the town accountant or resign himself. Winslow will be called to testify when the hearing resumes.
    That claim may be difficult to prove, however. Powers offered compelling testimony that Zaleski knowingly made false entries in the town ledgers. That alone would appear to be cause for her termination regardless of what Andrews’ motivation may have been. Powers also said he came to the conclusion in March that some of Zaleski's numbers were "fraudulent." If Powers didn't come to that conclusion until March, it's not reasonable to expect Andrews would have known that either.

    Another interesting aspect of Thursday’s hearing was the revelation that many of the accounts that didn’t match were between the town’s records and the school department’s records. Powers said Zaleski should have investigated those discrepancies by failed to do so. It’s a pretty good bet that Powers, in his continuing audit of the town’s books, will not make that same mistake.
     If the school department records prove to be inaccurate, this story just became a whole lot bigger.

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In This Corner - Robert Slager - 4 opinions posted

When politics and principles collide

In This Corner - Robert Slager
When politics and principles collide


     Sometimes holes are so big you can’t even see them.

    Over the past month Wareham’s open wound bled slowly on Town Meeting floor. Yes, the town moved forward on some key issues. The plan to force Police Chief Rick Stanley out the door by cutting police wages was thwarted by residents who recognized the importance of having a stellar leader overseeing public safety. The town’s wind energy bylaw (a rushed and flawed first stab at addressing the pros and cons of turbines) will now receive the proper study it always required. The town’s budget, held together with Scotch Tape and bubble gum so no town employees loose their jobs, should keep the town financially afloat for at least another year.

    But something was missing during spring Town Meeting. It wasn’t just the 99 percent of Wareham residents who didn’t attend a single night and delayed the meeting a week because a quorum could not be reached. What was missing in the auditorium of Wareham High School was a sense of leadership and a true understanding of what is important to the people of Wareham.

    The people who are supposed to be leaders in the community have now been completely swallowed by the tsunami of local politics. It’s no longer about what’s right. It’s about who’s right. It’s about a tally on a  imaginary political scoreboard. And for some, it’s just about revenge.

    Both side of the political aisle in Wareham unleashed a full barrage of political maneuvers on Town Meeting floor. Outright lies were printed about the Net-Zero Nitrogen bylaw. There was a call for an up-and-down vote on the budget after residents requested debate on specific line items. There were motions to reconsider previous articles from previous evenings ever though such requests were a direct violation of Town Moderator Claire Smith’s repeatedly stated policy.  The Finance Committee tried to hi-jack one of the meetings because it couldn’t control the town administrator’s budget. And voters openly defied the advice of the Department of Revenue and decided to use money from an employee health care fund to balance the town budget.

    No one stood up to either side of Wareham’s political aisle to stop this madness.

    This is the collateral damage of years of political infighting. This is what happens when some people can’t see past their battle scars.

    There will be people who will claim the end justifies the means. They will say the “other side” started it, and they will try to justify their actions based on that. That will make them feel better.

    The line between right and wrong grew awfully blurry during Town Meeting. Those looked upon as leaders in the community did little to slice through the haze. Yes, the repeal of the nitrogen bylaw was incredibly short-sited and foolish, and the misinformation drifting through the auditorium that night should have been embarrassing to all concerned. But attempting to reconsider the article on the last night of Town Meeting is precisely the kind of tactic “the bad guys” would have tried to pull in the past.  Calling for an up-and-down vote on the budget mirrored the disgusting ploy the library lobby successfully pulled off a few years ago to protect their slice of the pie.

    True leadership isn’t sinking down to the level of those who play dirty. It’s about raising the level of discourse for everyone. Actions aren’t good or bad based on the person engaging in them. Actions are good or bad based on the actions themselves. Right is right and wrong is wrong.

    There is no doubt that many residents who selflessly volunteered for public service have been brutally attacked for their efforts. There is unquestionably a fringe element in Wareham who refuse to accept that time has passed them by. They spend their hours tearing down what others are trying to build because they have lost their place in the community and with it their sense of identity. These are the people who lurk behind screen names and fill their empty lives by embracing personal vendettas.

    It is understandable that victims of this kind of hatred would want to strike back. But anger truly is a boomerang. If people let others change who they are inside then they truly have lost. The only real victory in life is staying true to one’s convictions, especially in the face of adversity.

    Leaders unite through the strength of their vision. They lead through passion tempered by wisdom. They lead through the example of their words and their actions. They don’t pander to one side of the political equation. They speak with the voice of everyone in the community, not just the 150 or so that, by default, chart the course for the town’s future at Town Meeting. Sometimes they tell people things they don't want to hear.

    There is a reason that so few residents become involved in town politics now. They are tied of the fighting. They are worn down by the negativity. The finger-pointing, the name-calling, the shameless smearing creates a wall of noise that acts as a barrier for many residents. It doesn’t matter which side of the political debate one stands; failing to reach a quorum during Town Meeting should serve as a jarring wake-up call for everyone.

   Leaders stand up for what’s right. They put aside personal feelings and embrace ideas that lift everyone around them.

    But most of all they stay true to themselves even when that’s the hardest path of all.

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In This Corner - Robert Slager - 1 opinion posted



   Please visit us on the web at www.drharelick.com

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Please visit our website by clicking on the following link: www.haydenpaintingservices.com

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Observer Business Directory

  

Wareham Barber Shop

249 Main St., Wareham

508-295-5184

 

SS Limousine Service
Wareham, MA
508-295-1598

 

Crowell Upholstery

508-295-6199

www.crowell-upholstery.com

 

Cranberry Cottage

246 Marion Road (Route 6), Wareham

508-291-1515

 

Triad OB & GYN P.C.

13 Sawyer St., Wareham

508-295-5197

www.triadobgyn.net

 

Innovation Construction Company

508-291-4907

www.keithisremodeling.com 

 

Gold World

3112 Cranberry Highway, East Wareham

508-291-1008

 

Danny’s Auto Service

Corner of Routes 6 and 28, Wareham

508-295-8922

 

Gateway Barber Shop

3B Tremont Road, Wareham

508-295-9596

 

Peter Albert – General Contractor

508-298-2661

 

Redbrook Masonry Services

508-759-4513

 

Law Offices of Lee Darst

3 Tremont Road, Wareham

508-295-3050

www.darstlegal.com

 

Dave Cogswell - General Contracting
508-295-5320

 

Franklin Flags
480 Union St.
Franklin, MA, 02038
508-498-9825

 

    Business directory listings are free to all print advertisers who advertise for at least one consecutive month. Listings can be added for non-print advertisers for $20 per month. Please call 781-754-0773 or e-mail warehamobserver@aol.com for more information.

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Features

Catching the firefly at last

Catching the firefly
Catching the firefly at last

     In 1993, Bill Clinton took office, the Buffalo Bills lost in the Super Bowl (again), “Unforgiven” won best picture, and Whitney Houston ruled the airwaves with her cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” from the movie “The Bodyguard.”
    And in an AIDS hospice in San Francisco my best friend Gary whispered his final words.
    He told me to make a difference. He told me to live the life I loved. He made me promise I would. Then he closed his eyes and slowly drifted away.
   
It was Independence Day.
   
For the past 17 years I have tried to live up to those words. But it wasn’t until about a year ago that I discovered what Gary truly meant. 
   
My daughter Sara had awoken with tears after a dream she had about chasing a firefly. She said it was the most beautiful firefly she had ever seen, but every time she reached out to gently grasp it in her hands it slowly drifted away. 
   
I wrote about Sara’s dream a few days later. Then I received an anonymous painting in the mail, which you can see to your right. I have looked at this painting every single day since.
   
Every once in a while, if you’re very lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a perfect moment in time. On Saturday morning my daughters turned 10 years old. They crept into the “big bed” around 6 a.m., proudly announcing that they were now double-digit kids. They crawled between my wife and me and asked for the biggest hugs they ever had.
   
Birthday wish granted.
   
It was at that moment I finally realized the life that I truly love had been staring at me all this time, and that making a difference at home is every bit as important as making a difference elsewhere. But there was still something I needed to do.
  
 In the course of a week I finally fulfilled my promise to Gary. In some small way, like a ripple in a giant sea, I had finally made a difference. Last week Town Meeting voters overwhelmingly approved a senior affordable-housing project at Westfield. Such proposals failed four times in the past, the last time by a mere five votes. There were many people in Wareham who refused to let the Westfield dream die. I was just one of them. But because I publish a newspaper each week I was able to spread the message in a way others could not. 
  
Westfield was about more than just a senior affordable-housing complex to many people in Wareham. Yes, the benefits it will provide for Wareham’s most vulnerable citizens was reason enough to support the project. Now the elderly in Wareham have hope of better days ahead. They will be able to live their golden years with the safety and comfort they have deserved all along. But Westfield also represented unity in Wareham. It would be the starting point toward ending the destructive political divide in the community. It was the one chance for people to put aside petty feuds and political differences and embrace a collective dream, one of hope and better days ahead for everyone.
   
That dream has been realized now. I could see it in the eyes of residents last Tuesday. Like a shroud being lifted, the light of new possibilities cast its glow inside the auditorium at Wareham High School.
  
A School Committee member walked over to the press section after the marathon Town Meeting finally ended. Lords knows I have been critical of the School Committee for playing politics, and I thought I was about to get an earful. Instead the School Committee member leaned over and whispered that I should be very proud for seeing Westfield through to the end. 
  
A School Committee member literally reached across the aisle to bridge the gap between us. I had a lump the size of a boulder inside my throat.
  
A remarkable series of events has occurred over the past few weeks. Bill Whitehouse shut down his divisive web site. Residents stood up to the bully tactics employed by a small group of people at Town Meeting. The net-zero nitrogen-loading bylaw passed after nearly a decade of effort by people trying desperately to save Wareham’s watershed. And then the organized opposition to Westfield finally melted away.
  
I truly believe Wareham is witnessing the dawn of a new era. There will always be extremists at both sides of the political spectrum, but a new voice is emerging now. It speaks the language of mutual respect and common courtesy. And that voice must be nurtured until it drowns out the hateful words and actions that have stained this community for far too long.
  
I am well aware that the Observer has its critics. That has never bothered me. I slept well knowing that my motives in Wareham were pure. It was never about money, power, personal vendettas or all the other nonsense written on the cyberspace bathroom stall in Wareham. I just wanted to make a difference. I wanted to try to stop the corruption in town government. I wanted to provide a voice to those who were systematically beaten down by a powerful group of people who put their self-interest ahead of everything else. 
   
Over the past five years – first with the Wareham Bulletin and then with the Observer – I have given every ounce of strength I could muster for the community. I certainly wasn’t alone in this fight. So many people refused to quit in the face of seemingly overwhelming opposition, opposition that would employ any tactic, no matter how unethical, in order to crush the will and oppress the viewpoints of others.
   
It was amazing to witness. Critics of the Observer have never understood that supporting ideals is not the same thing as supporting people. People are flawed. Ideals are not. I supported people who shared an ideal for Wareham, who saw the town not as something that could be manipulated for wealth and power but as a gift that should be shared by everyone. It didn’t matter to me if someone lived in Wareham for five years or 50 years. It didn’t matter how much money someone had. It was about whose voice was pure and whose voice was paid for in advance. It was about who was acting in the best interest of the community and who was acting in the best interest of themselves.
   
For four years I have been torn between the Observer and my family. I’ve had to juggle working 60-70 hours per week with my responsibilities as both a husband and as a father of twin daughters, who are now 10 years old.
   
I love Wareham with all my heart and soul. But I am no longer living the life that I love. That life must begin at home.
   
So this will be the final weekly print edition of the Wareham Observer.
   
I will maintain the Observer’s web site. There has to be a place where people can go to share their thoughts, hopes and dreams for Wareham. Too many people have fought too hard for too long to suddenly have their voices silenced by the paid-for local media.
   
I cannot allow that to happen. The Observer will still endeavor to bring the truth to Wareham each week. That will not change. Wareham Week and the Standard-Times will never tell you the whole truth because they can’t survive without the advertising dollars of special interest groups. The Courier has gotten much better, but its parent company is on very shaky financial ground. It may not last much longer.
   
There is no getting around this: I just can’t give Wareham the 60-70 hours a week that’s required to publish a weekly newspaper any longer. I will consider publishing special editions of the Observer when warranted. The Observer isn’t disappearing. It’s just going to take a different form.
   
I could offer a dozens things that factored in this decision, and each one is valid. Keeping the Observer afloat through the recession has been a tremendous financial hardship on my family. Most newspapers will eventually head to a web site-only model. I am diabetic and am concerned about the long-term impact that working 70 hours a week may have on my health. 
   
I shared this decision with a couple of close friends over the past few days. One of them asked me if I had any regrets. There is just one. I would have liked to understand the vision Take Back Wareham had for the community. If Bob Brady had ever picked up the telephone and asked to meet for coffee somewhere, I would have gladly accepted. But he never did. I made numerous offers to sit down with critics of the Observer in order to address their concerns face-to-face but no one ever took me up on that offer. That led me to believe there was no vision. 
   
To this day I have no idea what Take Back Wareham stands for because the only message they have ever shared is that they were against certain people and certain ideas. As far as I could see they were never actually “for” anything.
   
Did they have a plan for economic prosperity in Wareham? Did they have a solution for the political dissension in Wareham? If they did I never heard it. All I saw was a group of people obsessed with increasing their political power. 
   
Westfield is a good example. Last year when Westfield failed at Fall Town Meeting the Take Back Wareham crew patted each other on the back and said they would offer the town a viable alternative to Westfield. 
   
It never happened. There never was a viable alternative to Westfield. The opposition based most of its case on factual distortions. The deed restriction illegally placed on the property by the Board of Selectmen in 1977 was never going to be an impediment to the project, and they knew it. The restriction was illegal. An illegal deed restriction is unenforceable. The Take Back Wareham crew knew that but decided to throw it out there anyway to cause just enough doubt and confusion to kill the proposal. If a premise is not supported by the truth then it’s inherently flawed and should be abandoned. A policy of obstructionism and lies is no policy at all. There are no ideals in that. That’s something that Take Back Wareham has never understood.
   
People often asked me why I wrote about the hatebloggers so much. If these people were just ordinary citizens offering their personal viewpoints on issues I never would have batted an eye. But Whitehouse’s web site wasn’t used by a random group of residents. It was a political weapon intended to harass and intimidate those with opposing viewpoints. The defamation, hatred and lies that spewed from the site were stunning at times, and should have been an embarrassment to the entire community. The fact that three candidates for public office used that site to launch their campaigns doesn’t speak well of them. 
   
But that site is gone now, hopefully forever. The Take Back Wareham crew has already co-opted another web site in order to push its agenda of obstructionism. Bob Brady and Dick Wheeler, who helped to kill the Swifts Beach deed restriction, set up shop there in record time. 
   
I truly hope they, and others like them, join the open, honest, respectful debate that occurs on the Observer Media web site. The site gets more than 1,000 visits every day. On Sunday there were 453 comments in less than five hours on LIVE CHAT. There are good people out there seeking solutions to Wareham’s problems. The debate has to be about more than the same tired political attacks. Please consider adding your voice to the choir. You do have to become a member of the site in order to participate. I wish I didn’t have to charge anything for membership, but there is a cost involved in maintaining the site. With your support the Observer can continue what we started four years ago.
   
There’s another business matter to address quickly. Subscribers of the print edition, as well as advertisers in the paper, will be offered refunds for any outstanding balance on their accounts. We’ll be in contact with you soon.
   
For the past 215 weeks I have published a print edition of the Observer. Although a majority of our readers will continue to follow the Observer on-line I realize that this will mean goodbye for some senior citizens. That thought breaks my heart. I tried to fight the good fight for each and every one of them. My support for Westfield was never about me or my ego or winning some silly political game. It was about doing the right thing. It was about providing hope for people like Janice, an elderly woman with a heart of pure gold.
   
So even though I know this doesn’t mean goodbye to everyone, there are a few things I would like to say to the thousands of people who have supported the Observer newspaper these past four years.
  
Thank you. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for believing that truth and compassion will always be stronger than power and money. Westfield proved that once and for all. Thank you for allowing me to see that dream come true.
   
There are so many people I want to thank personally, but space dictates that I keep it to just a few. 
   
To my wife, thank you for standing by my side these past four years. I know it hasn’t always been easy. You took care of me when I needed you the most. Now it’s my turn to take care of you. I will love you until the end of time.
   
To Paul, thank you for coming through with financial support when it looked like the paper wouldn’t see its second birthday. You showed me what true friendship is all about.
  
To Elizabeth, thank you for your love of this community and for taking a chance on the Wareham Observer. I truly wish we could have set aside our differences and worked together to the end, but I will always admire and respect your dedication to Wareham. I hope you will let me buy you a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee someday. 
  
To our printer, thank you for sticking with us through some very difficult times. You could have pulled the plug on the Observer a long ago but you recognized what we were trying to do for Wareham. I will never forget that.
   
But most of all, thank you Andrea. Thank you for your integrity. Thank you for your class. Thank you for being the heart and soul of the Observer since the day you came aboard. You were my constant source of inspiration, especially when I grew so weary I didn’t think I could last another week. I never caved in because I didn’t want to disappoint you. I always thought that if I had the respect of someone like you I must be doing something right.
   
I ask only thing from everyone reading this. Be good to each other. Reach across the aisle. Tune out the extremists in the community. They offer no solutions. They just want to manipulate everything for their own benefit. It’s the people in the middle who will carry Wareham to a new day. 
   
Embrace the ideals of Move Wareham Forward. Demand transparency in town government. Encourage open and honest debate. Seek to find the answers together.
   
But most of all stand up to the voices of hatred in this community. Speak out against those who cannot let go of their personal vendettas. Do it with letters to the editor, with comments on the Observer web site, and most of all with your vote during town elections and town meeting. Join the growing choir of Wareham residents who want a better future for everyone. 
   
I tried to make a difference in Wareham. Now it’s time to spend more time with my family, to live the life I truly love. I have to catch my fireflies before they drift away, and my fireflies have to catch me.
   
Keep the faith. It will set you free.
   
Cheers.

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Robert Slager - 25 opinions posted

NYT > Home Page
(Last updated Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:03 pm EST)

Obama Signs Military Spending Bill
President Obama had opposed provisions of a $662 billion spending measure that would have forced him to try terrorism suspects in military courts and impose strict oil sanctions on Iran.

Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 6:39 pm EST

Euro Is 10 Years Old, but Few Are Celebrating
A decade after the celebrated introduction of the European currency, the word “euro” in a headline is usually paired with the word “crisis.”

Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:35 pm EST

Defender of Orphans Contends With Afghan Corruption
The director of Afghanistan’s orphanages is trying to improve their management but must confront pervasive corruption and political favoritism.

Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:23 pm EST

Two NASA Spacecraft Set to Orbit the Moon
A pair of spacecraft arriving in orbit on Saturday and Sunday will map the moon’s gravitational field in order to get a clear picture of its interior.

Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:37 pm EST

Republicans Wage Hidden Ground War in Iowa
Far from candidates’ spotlights, hundreds of aides and volunteers are waging an unglamorous ground war unfolding with hidden intensity.

Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:18 pm EST

Obama to Target Congress in 2012 Re-election Campaign
The president will show that he has taken unilateral actions on the economy in the face of the legislative stalemate with Republicans.

Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:34 pm EST

Sanctuary Claims Recently Deceased Chimp Was in ‘Tarzan’
To the 60 or so mourners who gathered in front of a chimpanzee’s Florida cage on Saturday, it didn’t matter whether he was the grinning sidekick of the “Tarzan” films.

Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:40 pm EST

Cars Set on Fire in Los Angeles Area for a Second Night
For the second night in a row, more than a dozen cars were lit on fire. There have been no arrests.

Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:43 pm EST

Man With Explosives Detained at Texas Airport
A man was detained Saturday after trying to go through a security checkpoint at a Texas airport with explosives in military-grade wrapping, federal and local officials said.

Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:54 pm EST

Nigeria Calls State of Emergency Over Sect Attacks
Nigeria’s president declared a state of emergency in four states and ordered the closure of borders near the affected areas.

Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:30 pm EST

The Partnership - Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb - By Philip Taubman - Book Review
A journalist examines the unlikely campaign of five cold war veterans to eliminate our nuclear arsenal.

Posted Friday, December 30, 2011 12:22 pm EST

CNN.com - World
(Last updated Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:03 pm EST)

Iran expects more nuclear talks
Another round of talks between Iran and world powers is expected to be held soon, Iran's ambassador to Germany said.
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 1:13 pm EST

New Year's celebrations sweep across globe
After a year marked by a wave of popular uprisings, deadly natural disasters and continued economic uncertainty, millions around the world are set to ring in 2012 with a party.
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 12:30 pm EST

Report: Chinese man dies of bird flu
A 39-year-old man in southern China died Saturday from what appears to be a contagious strain of avian flu, state media reported Saturday.
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:00 am EST

India death toll climbs in wake of Cyclone Thane
The death toll from a storm that has pummeled India's southeastern coastline rose Saturday to 27, with thousands forced to seek refuge in emergency shelters, officials in the worst affected area said.
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 6:52 am EST

South Sudan town to get U.N. protection
The United Nations is deploying peacekeeping troops to the remote town of Pibor in South Sudan, saying it faces an imminent attack by thousands of fighters engaged in ethnic clashes in the war-torn region.
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 1:15 am EST

4 killed in Pakistan blasts
Two blasts in Pakistan's tribal region killed at least four people Saturday, officials said.
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 9:32 am EST

'Iraq Day' marks deadline for U.S. withdrawal
Television stations in Baghdad are calling it "Iraq Day," the Saturday deadline for American troops to completely withdraw from the country under a U.S.-Iraqi security pact.
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 11:40 am EST

Syrian opposition groups plan for post-Assad era
Two major Syrian opposition groups forged a deal that charts a course for democracy if and when President Bashar al-Assad's regime crumbles.
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 1:38 pm EST

Arrest made in Chile wildfire
Chilean authorities on Saturday arrested a 23-year-old man accused of sparking a wildfire that has consumed more than 27,000 acres of a national park, officials said.
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 2:35 pm EST

Somali, Ethiopian forces take control of trade town
Backed by Ethiopian forces, Somali troops have wrested control of a key trading town after fierce fighting with Islamic militants, officials with Somalia's transitional government and witnesses said Saturday.
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 1:01 pm EST

ESPN.com
(Last updated Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:03 pm EST)

ESPN's coverage of UFC 141
Live coverage of UFC 141 from Las Vegas begins at 9 p.m. ET. Posted Friday, December 30, 2011 10:21 pm EST

Bynum back from ban to lift Lakers by Nuggets
Andrew Bynum had 29 points and 13 rebounds in his season debut following a four-game suspension that carried over from the playoffs, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 92-89 Saturday. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:37 pm EST

Kentucky tops Louisville to extend home streak
Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had season-highs with 24 points and 19 rebounds to lead No. 3 Kentucky in a rough-and-tumble 69-62 victory over No. 4 Louisville to extend the nation's longest home winning streak. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 6:11 pm EST

Padres get White Sox's Quentin for 2 prospects
The White Sox traded Carlos Quentin to the Padres for two minor league pitchers. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:24 pm EST

Reserve White leads Iowa to upset of Wisconsin
Freshman reserve Aaron White scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and Iowa stunned No. 11 Wisconsin 72-65 on Saturday, snapping the Badgers' six-game winning streak. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:03 pm EST

Source: Munchak 'torn' over Penn St. possibility
Penn State has not given up hope it can lure Mike Munchak for its coaching vacancy, a persistence grounded in the belief the Titans coach may listen to the Nittany Lions after all, sources have said. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 4:50 pm EST

Illinois halts skid with Fight Hunger Bowl victory
Terry Hawthorne returned an interception 39 yards for Illinois' first touchdown late in the third quarter and the Illini snapped a six-game losing streak by beating UCLA 20-14 in the Fight Hunger Bowl. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:38 pm EST

Knicks: Stoudemire (ankle) out for Kings game
New York Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire will sit out of Saturday night's game against the Sacramento Kings with a left ankle sprain, the team confirmed. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:55 pm EST

Utah rallies from down 14, wins Sun Bowl in OT
John White plowed into the end zone from 8 yards out to give Utah a 30-27 overtime victory against Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Saturday. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:36 pm EST

Gators OL Patchan to miss bowl vs. Buckeyes
Florida's already thin offensive line got a little thinner for the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl when coach Will Muschamp announced offensive tackle Matt Patchan will miss the game with an upper back injury. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 2:37 pm EST

Lindros makes triumphant return to Philadelphia
Eric Lindros stepped out of the dugout to a roar he hadn't heard in Philadelphia in almost 12 years. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:19 pm EST

A&M survives late NU rally for Meineke bowl win
Ryan Tannehill threw for 329 yards and a touchdown and Ben Malena ran for two more scores to lead Texas A&M to a 33-22 win over Northwestern on Saturday in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 6:46 pm EST

Blackburn stuns Man U on Fergie's 70th birthday
Blackburn pulled off the biggest surprise of the Premier League season, defeating Manchester United 3-2 at Old Trafford on Saturday to spoil Alex Ferguson's 70th birthday. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:51 pm EST

Washington shakes up staff, fires D-coordinator
Nick Holt arrived at Washington with the fanfare -- and salary -- usually reserved for head coaches. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:40 pm EST

Lesnar retires after first-round loss to Overeem
Brock Lesnar retired from mixed martial arts after Alistair Overeem stopped him with one vicious kick to the body at 2:26 of the first round in their heavyweight bout at UFC 141 on Friday night. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 2:38 am EST

FA report: Suarez used 'negro' regarding Evra
A report by soccer authorities says Liverpool's Luis Suarez called Manchester United's Patrice Evra a "Negro" seven times in the incident that led to his ban for eight matches. Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 6:25 pm EST

News, Mass.Gov, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
(Last updated Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:03 pm EST)
 

New Year's travel update
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

MBTA: First Night service schedule
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

MassWildlife calendar of events
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

New Probate and Family Court rules
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Cold weather safety tips
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Winter fun in Massachusetts
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

2012 angler education program schedule
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Weekly flu report, December 22, 2011
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

When your green tree turns brown, recycle it!
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

3,631 Mass. jobs created/retained by economic development projects
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

MassDOT: Grants fund Tropical Storm Irene repairs
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Accessible winter activities
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Latest job and unemployment estimates for local labor markets
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

91% reduction in toxic mercury air emissions announced
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

ChopChop newsletter to encourage healthy cooking
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Medicaid waiver agreement announced
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Annual survey of retail scanners
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Christmas holiday travel tips
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Local option room occupancy tax puts dollars in city and town treasuries
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Personal income tax rate resumes march downward
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Tax resolution firms dangerous to taxpayer health
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

$3 Million grant announced for Taunton
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Announcement of Attleboro’s redevelopment project
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

State funds support tornado rebuilding efforts
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Route 2 reopens
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Mass. adds 5,000 jobs in November; unemployment rate drops to 7.0%
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

AG partners with community colleges to create cyber forensics program for Mass. veterans
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Workforce training funds announced
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Chair of the Mass. Gaming Commission appointed
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Impoundment in criminal cases
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

First Complaint Doctrine modified
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Winter energy saving tips
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Information on juries
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

New and revised 209A (abuse prevention) forms
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Senior circuit breaker tax credit scam
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Holiday events
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Thinking of buying an exotic pet?
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Candle fire safety
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

2012 recreational saltwater fishing & recreational lobster permits
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Five national banks sued in connection with illegal foreclosures and loan servicing
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

No concern about mercury in MWRA drinking water
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Transgender bill signed
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Latest job and unemployment estimates for local labor markets
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Gaming legislation signed
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

National shipping and handling fees reviewed
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Anti-human trafficking legislation signed
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Congressional redistricting bill signed
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Billions in investments for Mass. communities
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Pension reform legislation signed
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Significant reduction in disposable shopping bag use at supermarkets
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Smart snacking
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Cooking fires and burn safety
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Mass. adds 10,800 jobs in October; unemployment rate holds at 7.3%
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

MassWorks grants announced
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Major economic impact of airports highlighted
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Over 100 communities adopt Stretch Code
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Minority Business Development Agency Center opens
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Disaster assistance for fisherman requested
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

New Clean Energy Program
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Proposed congressional district maps posted online
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Federal heating assistance for communities
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

MassDOT winter prep: cost savings, new equipment
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

$3.7 million awarded to 21 Green Communities
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Winter farmers' markets
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Veteran designation on driver’s licenses and id cards
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Time to think about diabetes
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Celebrate local food and farming this holiday season
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

New strategies to close persistent achievement gaps in education
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Massachusetts ranked no. 1 in energy efficiency
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

DPU asked to investigate preparation for and response to October snowstorm
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Flu prevention and the African-American community
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

House and Senate redistricting bills signed
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

MBTA's winter weather plans
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

MBTA Science Park/West End Station modernization
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Highway work zone speed enforcement
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Formal investigation to be requested into storm response
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Students earn top scores on nation's report card (NAEP)
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

MBTA ridership reaches modern record
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Comprehensive plan to increase veterans' services
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Storm and power recovery efforts
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

DOR proposes to expand tax practitioner electronic filing
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Flu season is here: get vaccinated today
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Parcel 1 groundbreaking: Rose F. Kennedy Greenway
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Supplemental budget signed to invest in job creation projects
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Latest job and unemployment estimates for local labor markets
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

School bus safety
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Get your questions answered about registering with FEMA
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Unclaimed property eBay auction
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

IRS: Benefits, deductions to rise in 2012
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Unemployment rate drops to 7.3%
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Tropical Storm Irene recovery
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

October is breast cancer awareness month
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

RMV encourages customers to renew online
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

New options for former Borders customers
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Help blind pedestrians when you drive
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Get the facts - who needs flood insurance?
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST

Compare labels, choose less sodium
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:56 pm EST