Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Rebuttal

I am writing down some thoughts I have about an editorial, "Fighting For The People", I read this morning in my hometown newspaper the Chelsea Record. I am listed with a group of Councilors who the paper claimed "spearheaded" a campaign to to favor commercial interests over residential interests in regards to property taxes. The editorial goes on to say that taxes are too high on home owners and the editor asks "why would other councilors be willing to shift burdens at a time when every dollar counts for residential taxpayers?" Excuse me for not posting a link, the Chelsea Record has not updated it's website since right before Thanksgiving. I also tried to PDF and convert the story to an image but that did not work either.

First off I would like to address the measure itself. The debate was over the real estate shift, wheter or not to shift the tax to burden businesses more then residential units tax wise. The vote that is mentioned in the paper WAS NOT made on this. RATHER the vote was in regards to an amendment offered by Councilor Roy Avellaneda that would have scaled back the shift slightly (the measure he was trying to attach it to went for a full shift) but still would have allowed a rather large shift towards the business side. The amendment is what I voted for, I did NOT vote against the tax shift. Maybe I should say this again I voted FOR the tax shift. Without the amendment the average tax on residences would go down and businesses would go up substantially. With the amendment business taxes would still go up from the current year but residential taxes would have, on average, stayed the same.

I would also like to address my "spearheading" the amendment. As I stated another Councilor offered the amendment, I am not listed on it anywhere. I was not even informed of the amendment and only heard of it during debate when it was tossed into mix. I personally have never brought forward a measure without either knowing I had the votes to pass it or have tried to convince everyone but I am not here to critique the techniques of other Councilors. I did not see a Chelsea Record reporter that night, so I can see why there was an issue.

It should also be noted that we had just passed a Residential Tax exemption that gave people who live in their homes a decent sized tax discount (we also voted on a resolution to name this after a fellow Councilor.) Later in the night we also passed the local meals tax which placed a .075 percent tax on the purchase of any prepared food in the city. We were already pushing back taxes on home owners, we were shifting tax burden onto business AND we were putting an extra tax on the prepared food industry I think it is only fair that we compromise on something to help out the struggling businesses in the city. I would question the Councilors who voted against the local meals tax, for the residential tax exemptions, who say we can not cut education/safety or essential services. I do not understand how they intend to pay for all of that while cutting taxes for residential units.

We ask our public officials to make tough decisions all the time. I think it is only fair that when they make what is a difficult vote that we include a little context as well. I feel like I was portrayed as a crony for business in the city which I guess I am except for when I am not (when the Chelsea Record says that people like me who have opposed industrial and business proposals that would hurt local residents are anti business.)

I plan on writing an editorial for next weeks paper but I wanted to lay this out while it is still fresh on my mind. If you think I am wrong feel free to tell me.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Endorsement of Mike Capuano for Senate


This may not come as a shock to many of you as I have been pushing many of you to vote for Mike Capuano for the open Senate seat since September.

We Democrats have been blessed with an incredible field of well versed candidates, I can see any of them being worthy of the Senate seat. With that being said one candidate stands above the crowd due to his intelligence, dedication, experience and dare I say sheer tenacity. Notice how I neglected to mention issues? This is because they are all very similar on the issues, as has been said MULTIPLE times, while differences are present they are not as visible as ability. I believe Mike Capuano is the best person for this Senate seat.

His dedication to his current position as my Congressman (8th Congressional District) has been strong and steady over the past ten years and he has managed to continue to represent us even as he runs for Senate. As my Congressman Mike Capuano has gotten involved in issues as local as helping to obtain funding for local parks and as international as his determined drive to shed light on the genocide of innocent people in Sudan. Mike not only voted against the war in Iraq he also voted against a bill called the Patriot Act (I am sure he was not a supporter of the House of Representatives food courts renaming French Fries to Freedom Fries in the early 2000's either.) Looking back at those votes it is easy to say they were the right choice but at the time his NO vote was in the minority and was considered unpatriotic by many, this helps illustrate his willingness to be a leader both in voice and in action.

His staff is attentive to local issues and tend to be just as knowledgeable as the Congressman is on a wide range of issues as well. His ability to select and manage a superior staff would be most beneficial in filling the roll of Ted Kennedy , an office that was exceptional at working on constituent services and local issues.

The word "anger" comes up every so often when people are asked to describe Mike Capuano. My first reaction is to chuckle and attribute it to "passion". Upon retrospection I have determined that I was wrong, Mike Capuano can in fact get angry. By his own admission he can be angry, quite angry. I have one simple question though; "Why is this anger a bad thing?" If Mike Capuano is angry, so am I. I was angry that those Hyatt workers got fired after unwittingly training their own replacements, I later found out that Mike Capuano was angry about that too. I am angry that poor people do not have access to health insurance, so is Mike Capuano. I am downright furious that there is a continued genocide in the Sudan, that we have lost our focus on the war on terror, that large financial institutions have handed us our wrecked economy now that they are done with it and that political campaigns cost so much money. What I have seen from Mike Capuano is that this so called "anger" has shown itself when other people are being mistreated or his family is at risk. Maybe it is the working class blue collar upbringing in me but well managed directed anger can do great wonders, I believe Mike Capuano proves this through his actions on all the issues I just mentioned.

The argument has been made that Mike is a great Congressman, that we should leave him where he is now for seniority purposes. While I am sure this is meant to flatter it misses a crucial point. Our Nation is built on the concept of promoting the best, allowing the cream to rise to the top. It is nonsensical to tell someone, wheter they be an Administrative Assistant or a US Congressman that they are too good at their current position to move up. Imagine someone telling you that you can not be promoted because you are too good at your current position and instead your company promotes someone with less credentials because they are new to the system, you would be angry I am sure (see above.)

Looking over Mike Capuano's resume I ask that you focus on a few key pieces:

Mayor of a Somerville Massachusetts, led the city during a time of economic revival

Congressman of a diverse (ethnic, cultural, socio-economical, geographic) district

Global travel to visit war torn regions, meet with world leaders and discuss issues all on a relatively meager budget.

Prior to election as Mayor involvement in the PTA and as a City Alderman

As a Chelsea City Councilor myself I know that Mike Capuano knows how his actions will affect local cities and towns. I know that Mike understands what unfunded mandates mean to a community low on funds. Congressman Capuano understands issues affecting local students. It is not theoretical, he knows because he has been there. I can also trust that he knows how his actions will affect those across the world, how others view the United States and how best to present ourselves to the world at large. His experience in the House of Representatives is also invaluable in the form of a comprehensive understanding of how the system works.

As I mentioned earlier most of the candidates feel the same way on a host of issues. The real difference lies in ability and determination. It does not matter how much you care about something if you do not know what actions to take to make it happen. Everyone knows the text book version of how the Senate works, it seems so simple and civilized. The reality is that the Senate is one of the toughest places in the world to operate, I spent time down in Senator Kerry's office and even in my limited capacity I could see how hard it was to convince other Senators your position is the best. It takes a combination of finesse, toughness and knowledge of the minutia of the rules to pass legislation and to protect the interests of Massachusetts. It is rare to find all those traits in one person... luckily we have Mike Capuano.

December 8th, Democratic Primary (Independants can vote too)

For more information:





Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I figured I would blog really fast about the Capuano Open Mike Bash last night, I made a comment on another blog and will expand on it a little here.

It was a very good event and the room was packed. The campaign was estimating about 1,200 people and I believe them, the room was packed and people were still in the lobby hanging out because they ran out of standing room in the ballroom. As some people left (mostly people from Western or Southern MA with long trips home) more people came to take their seats.

The room was buzzing and the Congressman was in his element. He seemed to really enjoy having the stage in the middle of the room rather then at a far end. This allowed more people to be up close.

I was also very happy to run into people from all over. In a past life I worked in a men's clothing store and I ran into a union guy who stopped by to buy sports coats once every 6 months. I ran into people I went to school with, worked with, a former boss,a current boss, bloggers etc.

I would say the best part of the evening was, even with the adoring crowd and attentive staff, when he had the podium taken off the stage and he took the suit jacket off. He became a normal guy, my congressman, Mike.

My friend Josh Dawson was one of three live bloggers at the event, check it out!
http://bostondemocrat.blogspot.com/2009/11/live-blogging-from-tonights-open-mike.html

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Because sometimes the NYT is wrong

I read an article in the New York Times (Via The Big Money) by Bruce Buschel who is apparently opening up a new restaurant in New York and is writing about it in a blog for the paper. The article is entitled "100 Things a Restaurant Staffer Should Never Do, Part I". Overall I think it had some good points, number 3 is great "Never refuse to seat three guests before the fourth arrives", after all who has had to stand around waiting for a fourth person when you could start appetizers and drinks without them? The problem is there are some other rules that are not so great.

"7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness."

I do not mind knowing the name of the PERSON serving me, after all they are a PERSON. People have names, they have personalities, hire people with good personalities and let them loose. Sure if they go over board that is not good but I hate a non personal waiter. It makes me uncomfortable.

"10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials."
"40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad."
"43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant."

I consider these three to be a group, the opinion group I guess you could say. Anyone who has dined with me will have seen me, on at least one occasion, ask what the waitress/waiter thinks. They work in the restaurant, they know what other people order and what people were expecting and did not get etc. I depend on their opinion, after all even if they are just working their between gigs it is their job and they deal with the food all the time. The better the restaurant the more I trust that you picked someone to staff the tables who has an iota of a clue as to what people could possibly want to eat. I made a visit to Jimmy's Steer House in Saugus over the summer and it instantly became one of my favorite places to eat after I found a dish I really enjoy there, Calamari on Caesar Salad. When the waitress came over I was perplexed over what to get and when she saw I was torn over the Calamari salad she interjected that it is really good and suggested Caesar Salad as a trade for the normal salad. She was right , it was GREAT. Here is an example where her opinion did matter and her interjecting did make a difference. I could have easily dismissed the idea and went with the normal salad but that was why I was torn and her assurance that the Caesar option was good sold me on it.

If I go into your restaurant feel free to compliment me on my choice and please do tell me what the best dessert on the menu is! I want to know. I promise I won't tell your boss.

"18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”"
"48. Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order."

These are both good rules to try to follow but I sure do hope that the owner is not going to be following them around to ensure compliance. After all I would rather have the right meal in front of me even if it meant asking to make sure it was mine. I do not want nervous waiters who are so afraid of a mistake that they may end up giving me the wrong dish. I also do not want nervous wait staff period, it makes me uncomfortable. After all as a patron my comfort should be taken into account, give your wait staff a break if they make a mistake on these rules other wise they will be nervous and will make me nervous.

"42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else."

From the department of petty complaints comes this gem. I do not even know what to say here, I guess in this place there is no such thing as a compliment. I do not see what is wrong with paying a compliment when you notice something that looks very nice, they obviously worked hard on it let them get complimented on it.

"32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them."

OK I understand this one I really do, after all it is a classic way for waitresses to elicit more tips from their male patrons. When a waitress does any of those motions they do increase their chance of better tips, unless there happens to be a woman at the table attached to the man and even more so if she controls the finances. It is a dangerous game to be playing but I am not sure if I want to see it outlawed outright.


For me most of the ones I picked out come down to the human factor. I want a person waiting on me, not a robot. My guess is that this place will be too expensive for me to dine in anyway, so I will not have to worry about it much. He has 50 more coming out soon, I am sure they will be just as pretentious and over the top as these.

Let me pull out the few I really like:

"4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-
bouche. The guests may be tired and hungry and thirsty, and they did everything right." (Not that hard)

"16. If someone requests more sauce or gravy or cheese, bring a side dish of same. No pouring. Let them help themselves." (I am a dipper myself so I love this)

"20. Never refuse to substitute one vegetable for another." (Personal favorite)

"31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong." (YES, full plate means something is wrong... One section untouched, something went wrong.Thought I can not help but feel that this may have been avoided if the waiter was allowed to express an opinion of some sort involving the dish I was ordering :/ )


Saturday, October 17, 2009



I had some free moments so I decided to write my thoughts on my leaving the Chelsea City Council in December. Be warned it is self serving, I am leaving the City Council but am still a politician ;)

I've spent my whole life in Chelsea living among long term neighbors, family members and newer residents. The first 26 years of my life in Chelsea seemed to culminate in my election to the Chelsea City Council (District 3). I remember going to school in the basement of the old Mary C Burke school (which is now a condo development, I was on the planning board when it was finalized and have responded to issues the current residents have to the best of my ability.) I remember playing in the old Merritt Park (now the New Mary C Burke school which is across from the site where a developer wanted to build a diesel power plant but we {local environmentalists and community activists/members} managed to stop it) and watching the councilor at the time lead an election rally when I was young, I would later go to school with his son and become his city councilor. As kids we checked out the old Forbes lithograph site (condos under construction,Aerosmith filmed a video there and a hosts a windmill whose base was moved across the site without resident input, because input was not required at the time, which prompted my sponsoring of a new comprehensive windmill ordinance.) Bradlees made way for Home Depot and features sidewalks that 18 year old Matt insisted be added to the site at a community meeting, 23 year old Matt approved while on the planning board and 26 year old insisted be kept free of snow so the local elderly residents can get to the local market and young children can get to school. My tenure occurred during the end of the boom years. I found it incredible to have been involved in the community visioning , in some cases approving plans as a member of the planning board and then dealing with the constituent problems that arise from massive redevelopment in a small area. It is rather ironic that now as the dust has settled, Webster has been repaved, Jefferson has received funding to be fixed, I step down. I enjoyed the busy years and fixing the problems that would arise, I do wonder what it would be like without all of those pending issues.

The highlights of the past few years have been:
* My election by my peers as the Vice President of the Council
* My appointment to the City Manager Evaluation Committee
* Being the main sponsor on a resolution calling for the retention of the resident discount program on the Tobin Bridge
* Signing onto resolutions trying to combat foreclosure in the city
* Working with the police department to curb drag racing with a massive reduction occurring during my tenure
* Working with city officials to reduce the number of trucks on residential roads and monitoring trucks through regular outreach to local citizens
* The repaving of Webster Ave
* The imminent reconstruction of Jefferson Ave
* The redesign of a pocket park taking the concerns of residents into account and brokering a compromise concerning the location of the basketball court
*My attendance at a vast array of cultural and community events, including my outreach to the public in publicizing them before and after the fact
* My advocacy of making more use of our preexisting sub committees in order to help increase transparency in local government
* Participating in Student Government Day in City Hall, getting a ticket while doing so and promptly paying for it at the City Clerks office!

In an unofficial capacity:

*My appearence on WFNX competing against Sam Yoon in "My Song is Better The Your Song"
* My oped piece on citizen involvement in the local community in the Chelsea Record
* Sitting on a panel for the Young Democrats of Massachusetts on running for office
* My subsequent appointment to the Executive Board of said group a few months later
* My defense of Chelsea against slander from a politician from another town
* Meeting the Latimer Society Girls Science Club in Cambridge on one of their trips
* Organizing a trip of the Boy Scout Troop to City Hall to meet with the City Manager and tour our emergency management center

It has been quite a ride in more ways then one. Most of my vacation time went towards attending events or meeting with constituents. I had a policy where I would make house calls and read every single piece of paper that went past my desk. I showed up to all meetings and attended the meetings of subcommittees I did not belong to to stay abreast of what was going on. I would routinely send out emails at midnight on a Saturday and be surprised to find our City Manager responding at 1am giving me enough time to respond by 1:15 am. It has also come with some fatigue, I began feeling like I could not give it my all for another term. I work an hour away and am looking to take on other projects in the next two years. Doing a sub par job was not ever an option and I felt that leaving midterm would be insulting to my colleagues and constituents.

I have liberal tendencies but have always been an advocate of governing in a smart, responsible, logical, ethical manner. Before making any major decisions I spoke with local residents and specifically looked for viewpoints contrary to what I believed. Ultimately I always voted the way I felt was best for city and my constituents. Generally I voted in line with people I traditionally considered my allies in the city but on a few occasions I went a different way but would always be up front and honest as to why I was voting the way I was. It is my hope that whoever fills my spot maintains the same level of good governance.

One of my philosophies that I carry with me is "Just because something is legal that does not make it right." I always have had zero tolerance for people that create injustice and hide behind legal manipulations.

People keep asking me what is next and I am not sure yet. As a rule former City Councilors and employees must wait a year before being appointed to any standing boards or commissions. I also may not have a Boy Scout troop to volunteer with as our numbers have dipped very low due to the closure of the elementary school that acted as a feeder for the troop. Most of my plans revolve around later 2010 so I may have a rare lull in life during the early half of 2010. Having been elected, appointed or running for something since I was 11 it will be odd to be so still. In Scouts it was Assistant Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, Junior Assistant Scout Master, Assistant Scout Master, Merit Badge counselor. In school I was on Student Council and pulled an upset over the class Valedictorian to become the school treasurer my senior year. In college it was Treasurer of the Political Science Academy followed by President and later founding member and Deputy Executive of the Salem State Democrats (I was nominated to be President but was in my last half year of my Senior year and wanted someone who would be around the next year.) Leaving school I joined the Chelsea Planning Board and then was elected to City Council. I have to go through the process of dislodging myself from my position without the benefit of having lost a race or "retiring", all of these signs and stickers and business cards will be recycled. My Facebook Group which inexplicably doubled in size since I announced I was not running again needs retooling. Contacting residents I have built relationships with to tell them who their new councilor is. Telling one of my constituents, she was my crossing guard when I was 4, for the 10th time I will not be her councilor come January etc.

I still have a few more meetings with a few resolutions I plan on passing before I leave.

Stay tuned...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Political Guide: Volume I

With so many political races going on at the same time I thought it would be interesting to write a blog about endorsements. How they affect races, guidelines that explain endorsement behavior and other random tidbits tossed in for good measure. I consider these to be guidelines and not hard and fast rules. I have over ten years of experience watching, being involved in and studying political races and am a politician in a small city so do have some insight but be warned I could be wrong!

The first guideline I would like to lay out is that politicians endorse UP and support DOWN. What do I mean by this? Well for example let's take small town/city A they have a council, a mayor and a state rep (State Senator as well.) Generally speaking a councilor may end up endorsing a mayoral candidate and a state rep candidate. The mayoral candidate may endorse a state rep candidate. The state rep candidate will avoid endorsing anyone in the chain. So as you can see people lower on the ladder endorse those higher on the ladder but those who are higher up tend not to endorse down.

That is where the support comes in. The higher up a politician gets the more support, money and experience they have. This can be offered to those lower on the ladder in the form of supporters, money or staff members. While no official endorsement is provided the lower level candidate is able to build using the tools provided to him/her.

Once a candidate receives an endorsement they can use it in many ways. At it's most basic an endorser may be a vote but may not even live in the area where the campaign is happening. An endorser is good for a few things 1) They provide legitimacy to the candidate 2) They provide the candidate with connections to money 3) They provide the candidate with supporters/workers 4) They provide the candidate with press. Not all endorsements carry the same impact.

The affect of an endorsement on the electorate depends on a few factors. How well known is the person doing the endorsing, how is the endorser perceived by the public, how legitimate does the endorser seem, do people trust the endorser and who/what has the endorser endorsed in the past. An endorsement by the Republican Party in a Democratic stronghold may not have much sway. Newspapers can be hit or miss as they increase a candidates visibility but at times seem to endorse people for trivial reasons. The endorsement of a popular local politician with many followers is great because they can provide you with access to voters, volunteers and information. Even regular people without fancy official titles can get in on the act.

There are people in every social situation that act as connectors, if you were to draw out a diagram of how people get their information these people would be in the middle of a cluster and would be connected to other connectors. Other people trust the opinions of these people which makes their opinion very important. These are hard people to peg because sheer volume does not mean every person in their circle trusts them. A keen politician will know who is a valid connector and who just happens to appear to be one. For instance 1,000 followers on Twitter does not mean much if 950 of those people just follow that person because she followed them first. On the other hand a Twitter user with 150 legitimate followers would have more of an impact as those 150 people are following that user for their knowledge and not due to simple reciprocation. This works in the real world as well.

Loyalty plays a role in the endorsement process as well although it will only get a politician so far. Loyalty plays the biggest role in a close race with similar candidates as that could be one of the differences between candidate A and candidate B. A person who endorses someone out of sheer loyalty without sharing any political ideaologies with the candidate risks affecting the trust of others in future elections although that does not stop them from offering the support mentioned earlier in the blog.

Like I said before these are my thoughts and they are mixed in with political theory and sociological theory that stuck around in my head from my college days. I would be interested to see if other people agree with these assesments, just let me know.

UPDATE:

After posting this blog some news was released about the Boston Mayoral election concerning the Sam Yoon endorsement of Michael Flaherty. It is not uncommon for former rivals to rejoin the race as endorsers for another candidate, especially when promised a role in the future government (This does not always mean a position, it can also equate to influence.) This happens all the time at the national level, as was seen in the last Democratic Primary for president when we saw multiple shifts in the Democratic landscape. It does seem to be an uncommon occurrence in this area especially given the fact that I do not believe Boston even has a Deputy Mayor (Yoon will be the Deputy Mayor to Flaherty if Flaherty is elected.) We are all used to seeing bumper stickers with two names on them for President and Governor, it will be interesting to see that at the Mayor level in Boston.

For disclosure purposes on the update I do not have a candidate I am supporting in the Mayors race. The two higher profile endorsements I have outstanding in the current election would be for Andrew Kenneally for At Large City Council in Boston and Michael Capuano for Senator.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Union!

I woke up this morning and checked my Twitter feed (@mattfrank if you would like to follow) and came across this story on the Boston Hyatt's laying off their workers so they could hire people to do their jobs for half the pay. What is even worse with the story in the Globe was that the workers were asked to train their replacements having been told they were training temporary workers who would work during vacation periods and when the work load required more workers, they were "fill ins". It turns out they were replacements and the workers had unwittingly saved Hyatt a fortune by training these new workers for the hotel before receiving their pink slips. As a City Councilor in Chelsea I am sure that many of these workers could have been residents of my city commuting to Hyatt for job with a reasonable pay.

I must have had a psychic connection today because in short order I found out some of the people and organizations I respect most had come out in support of these workers. Boston City Council President Mike Ross was on Twitter pushing the event and spoke, Congressman Capuano was in attendance and the Teamsters apparently showed up in full force. I have yet to meet Mike Ross but from what I read and hear he seems like a class act who genuinely cares about people. I actually sat in for a few minutes on a panel he was giving at State Convention that the Young Democrats helped organize and was impressed. I have always liked Congressman, and with any luck future Senator, Capuano and was very happy to see him standing up for the workers. What I like about Congressman Capuano is that he stands up for what he believes in, it does not matter if he is the Selectman, Mayor, Congressman or running for Senate he will do what he thinks is right.

Finally there are the unions that organized the event and those that showed up. Teamsters Local 25 did not organize the event but I recognized them instantly from the pictures I saw online. Local 25 is my fathers union, I have had the pleasure of being under their protective umbrella in the past. When I was younger my father job hopped, something that continued for quite a few years, which is not uncommon among many in the workforce. Then he got a job, a union job, that he has held for a very long time (he has moved around within the organization but has stayed put.) Even through the eyes of a kid I could see the differences. For starters we were eligible for eye glasses with the healthplan which meant we were able to get them replaced more often. There was better medical care, dental care and they all extended through to children until they leave college. My father seemed happier, workers stayed in their jobs longer which I would imagine makes it easier on management in a way if workers are not coming and going so fast. On a regular basis the union sponsors a blood drive and on one occasion I visited with my father (after I was 18 of course) and we even made it into the Union newsletter which may still be one of the widest circulated photos of me around. I realize unions have their problems but what I've seen from Local 25 has convinced me that workers in most unprotected fields need some sort of union coverage.

Getting back to the workers who were layed off from the Hyatt... They were not part of a union and never have been. The unions decided to get involved themselves. On one hand it is a kind gesture, defending workers. On the other hand it is self preservation, after all if Hyatt manages to get away with this the practice could spread to unionized hotels and other unionized fields. This is about more then just these workers, a line must be drawn to stop the spread of this practice to other companies.

The new employees will not receive benefits or health insurance. These laid off workers are now going to get some sort of government help. If that was not bad enough these new imported workers make so little that they too will be qualified for government assistance in some form. We are now responsible for the OLD and the NEW workers in this deal. How is this fair? Is Hyatt really in that much trouble? If you look at the numbers, I do not think so.

This has happened before. If you have been to the doctors recently chances are some operator in India knows your whole medical history from the medical transcription service your doctor probably uses, being carried across multiple countries by wire. Try getting a local on the phone when you call any major help line. Tax companies are now working on wiring up offices in other countries to process your tax return. Now when you check into a hotel someone making minimum wage with no real connection to the hotel is going to be alone with your stuff while your gone. If you had a hard time trusting the cleaning crew BEFORE wait until you meet the new crew who doesn't know where the pool is and who turn over every 3 months.

Hyatt is what is wrong with this country. By taking these people out of the work force and slashing their pay they are reducing the overall economy so they can pad their own pockets. Most other major hotel chains have come out against the practice and Hyatt is having a rough time publicity wise out on Twitter and other services. It is important that we keep on this company to show them this is not OK and will not be tolerated by the American consumer. What they did was legal... that does not make it right.

Boycott, boycott, boycott

Friday, August 28, 2009

50 Dollars!!??!!??

I am just stopping by here for a quick story, then back to packing.

I worked late in the square tonight so I was able to sleep in a little and then get to work by 11am. After waking up I ran some errands and dropped a few things off at my new apartment and then had to make one more stop before going back to Cambridge. I will not say who I ran into or where I ran into him (other then the fact that it was in Chelsea) but I do have to say I am amazed at the audacity of this guy's request.

While walking down the street I get stopped by a gentleman asking for some money. Normally I just say hello and keep on walking but he stepped right in front of me and put his hand out to shake my hand. Never having been one to walk away from a hand shake I shook the guys hand and went to keep moving when he started his spiel "I know what your thinking, that I just want some money but it is more then that. You've seen me around , you know where I am" well this was true I HAVE seen him around so now I am intrigued. "You see I normally work for so and so but they are in the hospital this week and I am out of work until he gets back on his feet" now you have to remember that I do not remember the exact words coming out of his mouth and my paraphrasing is making him come across as much more coherent then he actually was, I continue to listen. "so to get to my point, I am going out on Sunday and just need 50 dollars for dinner with my buddies and two packs of cigarettes." Excuse me? 50 dollars? Your asking me for a hand out, in the middle of the street and it is 50 dollars? For dinner? When is the last time I spent 50 dollars on myself for dinner? So he goes on for a little bit more and I have enough so I politely tell him I have to get to work and do not carry cash on me.

His response as I am trying to extricate myself from this situation was " Well, I know who you are and I am not going to vote for you!" I ask him his name and where he is from and inexplicably he tells me and I respond "Your not in my district, your a republican, I'm not running for reelection and you haven't voted in years!" Having campaigned in Chelsea for numerous people for over a decade and having done projects on the district breakup and voter blocks while in college I am quite well versed on where everyone is from. Not to be deterred he shoots back "well can you at least buy me a cup of coffee on your debit card?"

Were you expecting me to say I bought him the coffee? Who am I Tip O'Neil? Of course I did not buy him the coffee I told him to have a great day and walked away. I just canceled my cable subscription to save money and I'm going to give you 50 dollars to go out on the town?

Monday, August 17, 2009

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY?

I have always been a fan of books on dystopian futures and alternate history. As someone who also tends to be knowledgeable on the first wave of technology (generally joining on the second wave after the kinks get flushed out but before it becomes very popular) it takes some maneuvering to settle these two interests. I feel that technology can be of great use to people if used properly. Research that would normally take months or even years can be done in weeks and even days. People can communicate instantly in multiple ways with all sorts of different people. On the other hand any casual observer of dystopian future novels (think 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World) or movies (Terminator, Idiocracy, Matrix) can tell you that the future is bleak because of technology. I will approach my concerns one by one in the following paragraphs.

As ironic as it seems modern day Americans are more concerned about our privacy and safety from our own government then if others are out to harm us. While government privacy should be a major concern many of us forget about the censorship that can be exhibited by the massive corporations that we buy goods and services from. Walmart, for instance, has been known to ban books that it finds mildly offensive. Amazon, acting as a witless giant, not only took 1984 titles off the shelves of its store (they were unauthorized) they struck them out of people Kindles. In many rural areas Walmart IS THE local book store, a fact many of us who live in a city that is still griping to many of it's book stores forget. If Walmart chooses to ban a book, then it is not available in large swaths of the country and puts people in rural areas at the mercy of the giant retailer (mind you pulling a book due to low sales is quite different then pulling a book because you do not like what is inside the covers.) On the other side of the seesaw is Amazon which is just as powerful as Walmart in many areas, if not more so. In an amazing move , even more so considering it involved the book 1984, Amazon deleted every copy of 1984 on every Kindle reader in the world. Within seconds 1984 ceased to exist in its electronic form. While Amazon was acting in a logical manner, after all it was a mistake the book was sold at all due to distribution rights AND they refunded all the buyers, it still shows how insecure information is when it is trusted to corporations.

Trusting the corporations we do business with everyday is important as Web 2.0 becomes increasingly mainstream. The question is should we trust these companies? After all many of them were all to willing to hand over information without a fight when the Government came knocking . Also let's face it while all these companies claim to be morally above the fray on many occasions they have been known to toss citizens to the wolves when it got in the way of their business plans, like this story from 2005 detailing how Yahoo China helped the Chinese government arrest of a pro democracy blogger. Even our own government has gotten in on the action, and I'm not talking about Bush, Obama at one point was trying to collect information about users that visited Government websites and created his own misinformation collection center .

Even when companies are attempting to be altruistic they can be brought down thereby causing issues for anyone who depends on their services for life or work. Blackberry has been known to go through black outs on occasion, cell phones were blocked after 9/11 (proving the government is capable of shutting down cell service if needed), in China and Iran it is common place to shut down cell phones and social networking sites if they sense trouble. Of course there are also common black outs like the one that hit the Northeast in 2003 and I am sure New Orleans was without the Internet during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Twitter has shown it is susceptible to attacks from foreign countries when the world went blank for a few hours as the Russians tried to silence one blogger. Twitter was also the epicenter of a controversy when it was found out that Twitters files , which were residing on Googles "information cloud" were hacked , rather easily I may add, by hackers thereby proving that the Google Cloud concept is not all that safe , and becomes less stable as more people join your circle.

In a world overrun by technology and failing newspapers it is important that we retain some vestige to the past. Technology is too easily changed, too easily controlled , too easily corrupted to be trusted 100 percent. In 1984 the protagonist had to change all the newspaper clippings by hand to reflect the new reality, in our future world that can be done with one click from the Amazon offices. Our technology has finally made 1984 possible, from web cams to flat tvs to citizens collecting information for the government. While we are not in that situation now we must remain vigilant to protect ourselves from the incremental increases that could ultimately lead us down that road. Books in their paper form, in their classic form are timeless creations. Newspapers are easily archived and hard to change. Printed pictures can be socked away for generations and found later on.

Even in the realm of the printed page we are allowing ourselves to be dumbed down. It is a sad day when Fahrenheit 451 comes out in comic form, FAHRENHEIT 451 IN COMIC FORM and this was seemingly done without any sense of irony.

Who will stand up for our rights even if we do not do it ourselves. Do you think that webmasters will defy government orders in the same way that librarians did in the face of the Patriot Act? How will you even know the change has been made? If done right there is no clear link to the former past because after all we have "always been at war with Eastasia" right or was it , no it has to be right that's what the web log says.

Mentioned by my friend
http://highlyopinionatedmomof2.blogspot.com/2009/08/i-dont-generally-do-this.html

BTW I am not all that scared of security cameras as they require more man power then is worth it in most countries to track people.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

City Council Update

Supporters/Friends,

I know people only glance over these messages so I will get to the point fast. After careful consideration I decided not to run for reelection to the Chelsea City Council. My term ends in January and I will be serving until then. I made the decision because I could not fully commit to another 2 years at the moment and did not want to leave mid term. I made the official decision a few weeks ago and their are now two people running for the seat so their will be a choice for those of you who live in the district. In fact many races are contested in Chelsea which I believe is a great thing. A democracy can not run without elections and competition. I currently do not have an endorsement for my seat, I just hope for a fair clean election.

My constituent hot line will remain active and in January the voice message will change to a normal message, it will still be a great way to get a hold of me. I will be writing a blog in December looking back at the last few years, now does not seem to be the time to do so as I will be serving for a few more months.

For those of you who have been concerned everything is OK, there is nothing wrong. I just have some educational/vocational plans for the near future. I plan on remaining active in the community.

Thanks again for all your support,

Matt

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meet the new protesters: Same as the old protesters

Over the past few weeks and months there have been many protests against the Obama Administration. Obama is raising taxes, Obama is not an American, Obama wants to kill your grandmother and steal her money. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda the hits keep on coming.

This brings up a very good question, are these conservative outliers UnAmerican as Speaker Pelosi so daftly put it?

I would have to disagree with the Speaker and apparently put myself in line with President Obama, Senator Specter and others on the left who say that this IS AMERICAN . Americans protest things, that's what we do. You want to tax my tea, fine I'll throw it in the harbor how do you like that tea England? Sure there have been zany protests over college courses and of course there have been gravely serious protests in the past as well such as those involving civil liberties for women, minorities and most recently the LGBT community. Congressmen get arrested for protesting the atrocities in Dafur on a semi regular basis it seems, this is nothing new.

After the 2000 election the prospects for Democrats in Washington DC dropped significantly. In short order the Democrats lost control of the Senate (this went back and forth a bit) lost ground in the House, stood at a disadvantage on the Supreme Court and lost the Presidency because a few older citizens in Palm Beach thought Pat Buchanan was Al Gore. Liberals did not have much of a stance on reaching people on the radio and for the most part opinion shows seemed to have a conservative slant (granted the Liberals had "main stream media" but main stream media does not organize citizens.) Faced with these offsets and seeing the country tilt to the right with policies like the Patriot Act and later on the war in Iraq liberals took to the streets.

While it never quite reached the level of the Vietnam protests 30 years previous there were lots of protests all across the country and even the world. Universities held sit ins, people stormed DC on a regular basis, button makers made a killing on anti Bush buttons. All the while the Republican machine sneered at the protesters. UnAmerican they were called. Rebellious, stupid, insipid, silly. In my minds eye the personification of this character is a Snidely Whiplash type character with a handlebar mustache, his right hand twisting the end of the mustache as he counted his money with the left hand.

Of course the Conservatives and the Republicans would take it to the streets, their party is on the outs and central leadership is lacking. Yes I would appreciate their outbursts to be a little more civil, take a look at Thomas Paine and of course Henry David Thoreau who literally wrote the book on the subject (essay whatever.) This is what they believe in, I would hope they care enough about their country to be upset over it...

To be fair WE ARE pushing through legislation at a fast pace. They have a point that the Democrats are using the fiscal crisis to advance their own goals and agenda I would feel bad for them if it was not for the fact that George W Bush used 9/11 to push and pass his own agenda as well. So I do understand the shock, I do understand the concern, I mean seriously who among us has been able to read the thousands of pages being produced by Congress on this very subject. Its very similar to the buildup to the war with Iraq where many Congressmen went along with the flow only to change their minds later, although I'm not going to name and names but I think we all know who they are.


I think Liberals are just upset because Sarah Palin and John McCain figured out what Twitter is. They are upset because Conservatives figured out you could use wood and paper to make handy protest signs. They are annoyed that there is no more George W Bush to push around. That Republican law makers can have exciting extramarital relations as well both of the wide stance variety and of the international visa variety. The tables have turned and the liberals are doing all the work while the conservatives man the peanut gallery and I have to tell you it seems like some of the liberals are feeling a little jealous right about now.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Thank you for not smoking, oh wait, what?

I am running behind on my blog series about Freedom Tour 2009, I am going to try to wrap it up this week. First off the posts will be much shorter, they were too long to write and too long to read. Second I am going to skip over some of the stories I tried to weave. For those waiting for the cliff hangers the thing that I saw that shocked me in CT was my fathers old van that my brother nick named Barny because it was eggplant purple, when they gave it to charity it was barely running but there it was in CT. Also we fired Michelle for a different GPS voice but they all sounded the same and all kinda stunk.

In case you need to catch up

Day One, Quincy

When we got to RI I immediately noticed the giant bridges in Newport and how much nicer they were then the bridges we have back home. I also noticed the giant church like slot hall. When we got to Newport almost every hotel in the city was booked because of a giant tennis event because apparently Newport is the tennis capital of the world, or so said the gentleman at Motel 6. I found the room to be hilarious because it was so utilitarian and stripped of any amenities, even the tv was just plopped on a desk almost hanging off the side. My favorite part of the room was the no smoking signs , they were conveniently placed on the bottoms of upside down ash trays, just in case you needed to catch a drag to let the fact that your in a smoke free room sink in I'm sure.

Rhode Island cemeteries are huge, I mean HUGE. The Newport one was big and the Providence one would of had its own zip code under different circumstances. All the pictures in this blog are from Newport due to the more interesting things we saw down there.

William Ellery was the first signer we went to visit, buried in Newport RI and apparently within a half mile of his home which was a common theme. What was amazing about Mr.Ellery was the fact that his grave site is surrounded by a nine foot steel fence. Not a wrought iron fence but a recent fence , I would say less then 30 years old. Some of the signers were literally on the sides of their father in laws graves and yet Ellery gets his own fortress, its curious to say the least. I think its a sad way to spend eternity, surrounded by fence.

Another curious site was this house right on the edge of the cemetery. The distance between that obelisk and the window of this home is less then 5 feet (yes I checked) and it is lined up with the window to boot. When I was younger I used to laugh at my cousin who would refuse to breath while we drove past the cemeteries in Everett and I would buy a home near a graveyard but this would be a little too much for me. Whats even weirder is they both seem to be from the same time period. At least he has a quiet neighbor I guess.

Down the street there were many more period homes and half of them were painted in monotones. One color for the whole house, no accent color. This has to be the reddest house Ive ever seen and I resided in a rose colored house for ten years! At least my house had white accents...

After Newport we headed over to Providence to wrap up the Rhode Island leg of our trip. This was one of the biggest cemeteries I have ever seen in my life, it had its own road map and took us several minutes just to DRIVE the length of it. Stephen Hopkins was buried under a medium sized obelisk that luckily was already photographed on another site. We managed to use our tree identification skills to find the tree that was in the online photo. We also managed to find the site of the founder of Brown University who had his own little chapel which is currently in very rough shape.

After hitting up the cemetery in Providence we headed to Brown University for lunch. Ive never been to Brown but can not understand how anybody lives there in the winter time. The gradient on the hills was so low that they had warning signs posted all over the place. In 80 degree heat it was a pain, in sleet I could imagine people losing their grip and falling to their death on the jagged ice below. Brown reminded me of a mini Harvard in the sense that their yards are very similar and the architecture looked alike as well especially when compared to the Gothic Revival of Yale.

Lunch was pretty good, we went to this Greek place that was pretty good but not outstanding. The condiments were sitting in the table in their original containers, including the olive oil. Now it was not a fancy place but it sure was more done up then a diner I expected my salt to be in a shaker and my olive oil (Greek remember) to be in a container of some sort. Maybe it's just me. After several days of heat and humidity and being away from a reliable source of iced tea for so long I was getting a little cranky and the thought of tackling that hill again was putting me in a funk. That's when I saw the holy grail, Tealuxe ! I always thought that only two existed in the WHOLE WORLD. Boston and Cambridge, but low and behold here it was in Providence. First I found my fathers old car and now this, surely this was a miracle. Walking inside I immediately noticed it was larger then my local haunt in Harvard Square and the staff was larger as well. On any given day their is a tea rotation of four different teas and I was very happy to see that Golden Monkey was on tap today! Golden Monkey only shows up once a week tops and here it was, right in front of me , miles away from home. No this was no miracle, this was Providence.

The day ended back in Boston where we hit up my brothers graduation party. Pool, air hockey, lots of food, beer, video games, it was a good night. Great way to end the day, I was ready to tackle New Hampshire.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Ground Control to Michelle: Do You Read?


This is my second installment of my blogs focus on Freedom Tour 2009. For those of you unaware Freedom Tour 2009 is (was) a trip around New England that my friend Chris and I took with a main focus of visiting the grave sites of the signers of the Declaration of Independence from New England. The trip is part of a series of trips that Chris has taken across the country, taking pictures of every grave site of every signer. I was without computer access for most of the past week so will be retroactively blogging about each of the past three days in separate blogs and will address some over arching themes in another blog. I envision a full 5 blog series if you include the Adams posting from last week. Also while we visited the signers, this blog is more about the trip itself and my observations then the signers. Chris will be working on a much larger project on the signers and I do not want to jump ahead of him on that (so minimal pictures of the actual signers graves on this blog) if you want to know more let me know.

Friday morning was the start of the road trip and we headed out the door in the pouring rain to head for Connecticut. We had a GPS but it was not operational due to my power adapter in the car not working so a decision was made to use my cellphone, which has GPS capability for the navigation portion of the trip. The voice on the GPS was named Michelle on the phone and I began to wonder if she knew what she was doing. On the agenda for the day was to visit the sites of the four Connecticut signers: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams and Oliver Wolcott. These guys all lived in far reaching parts of the state so we started off with the farthest away and moved our way in. By early afternoon we had reached Litchfield CT for the first signer.

Upon reaching the Litchfield exit we rode through several miles of side highways each smaller then the last. It was also about this time that Michelle began acting funny and was more quiet then usual. She had failed to inform us that we were almost out of battery power because the GPS had been draining the battery the whole time we were driving down the major highway for miles and miles, she was not smart enough to stop calculating while we were going between long periods. Luckily we were on a main street near multiple stores so decided to just pick up a map and make out way over the old fashioned way, after all we were sure we could just charge the phone during lunch. Much to my surprise CVS did not have of the state, the supermarket did not have a map and the auto supply store did not have a map to purchase either. They all had the same answer "No we do not have maps, we used to about a year ago but not anymore. Did you try XYZ." It was at this moment that I realized the state of the world we were in. We are becoming addicted to the internet and computers, so much so that local stores no longer carry maps like they used to, I remember maps being a staple at CVS and Walgreens. It is not until you lose your technology that you realize the addiction has taken hold. We finally found the maps at a gas station down the street, a random older man who heard us looking for a map told us to try it once we got outside CVS. Small town stores are up on the times enough to take out the maps, it is good to know some of the older folks are still keeping track of where the rest of the maps are. Upon leaving the gas station I saw a site that was akin to the graves we would be looking at later in the day, something I thought had moved on long ago but was still alive and kicking, all the way down here in Litchfield CT. If your curious read the blog I will post later on this week about overall themes, I currently do not have the pictures I need for this to mesh out because you see my cellphone was my camera and was dead so I need to wait for Chris to upload.

The rain finally ended as we approached the first site but notbefore turning the whole state of CT into a giant humid swamp. In what would become a theme for the four signers in CT we came across the cemetery , on the side of a small highway. Oliver Wolcott is buried in a cemetery right out of a Steven King book. The trees were all overgrown, there were numerous tombstones haphazardly strewn across the land and the tombstones had a black patina that had formed on their surfaces but had then begun melting off of the stones. I am assuming the patina is due to the soot and pollution from the nearby highway mixed with the subtropical haze I felt over the whole city of Litchfield. Wolcotts were buried on a small mound and were guarded by a short fence surrounding the family plot. The town center seemed quite nice and Wolcotts home is still standing although I am not sure what it currently is.

Upon leaving Litchfield out next mission was to make our way to Yale University where Roger Sheman was buried on the outskirts of the campus at the time. New Haven reminded me of Cambridge to a degree, mainly because of the presence of Yale. Being lucky we found a parking spot right near the cemetery , which was professionally administered, a stark contrast to the Wolcott site. The large cemetery had little pathways just like a more moder cemetery but still had many interesting graves. Eli Whitney is also in the same neighborhood making it a fairly popular place. This was my first siting of a revised tombstone on the trip where the original stone was hard to read due to erosion over time but a more moder granite slab was added nearby to replicate the tombstone. After visiting the sites we headed over to the Yale campus and I noticed one thing immediately, the Yale tshirts. Working in Harvard Square I see many people with Harvard shirts on but they are all mostly tourists or possibly a random cheerleader wearing the sweatpants with the little Harvard Insignia on them, but never a student. At Yale I saw dozens of people who were obviously students sporting Yale shirts. I found it to be odd because Yale and Harvard are so similar on many other levels.

The Yale campus is very Gothic, everything looks like an old European church even the gym. the walls bled down to the pathways which were also the same color. The entire place had a religious feeling and the sea of paved pathways is something I am not used to. Yale does beat Harvard on secret society buildings. Lampoon Castle is imposing but right outside the cemetery there is a building with a snake themed wrought iron fence and appeared to be a white square temple type building with no windows. Then there was the Skull and Bones building which looks like it has not be spruced up for years. The grass is overgrown, the granite pilings out front are broken and there appeared to be garbage strewn about. This all adds up to make it appear a little more mysterious but I do want to implore anyone who knows a member or ex member that they really should consider hiring a landscaping service, I'm sure they could afford it.

While lunchtime had come and go Chris and I decided to get as far away from major cities as possible before rush hour started. This brought us to Branford CT where we took in some excellent seafood from a slightly tacky fish place right near the water. While driving down the highway we saw a sign that said "Best Seafood in CT" so we decided to make a go of it, after all if a billboard says its the best seafood in the state who am I to argue. After making our way to the exit the signs stop and we are left to our own devices to figure out where this place is. After paying so much for a sign on the interstate you would think they would get themselves one of the little signs with an arrow on it... Long story short we ended up going the wrong way for a few miles before turning and coming back. When we saw the giant lobster in a bucket on the roof of a building we knew we found the place, USS Chowder Pot III .

Upon entering the restaurant, tired and sore from driving, we were immediately seated in a room that saw its best days in 1975 based off of the portholes on the wall and the wood paneling around the room. I enjoyed the decor for its charm, it gave me confidence in the quality of the outcome. My main objective was to get my phone charged which proved to be more difficult then I had thought it would be. The woman who seated us told me they had no spare plugs in the whole restaurant, even as she pointed to an 2 socket wall unit with only one thing plugged in. As she seated me I asked if she could inquire with a manager for us, we never saw her again. Annoyed but determined I asked out waitress who I knew would be easier to persuade, after all SHE is the one that depends on our tips. She was happy to help, took the phone and told her manager we were out of state and I desperately needed my phone for the next leg of our trip for the GPS (truth be told I also was missing my camera abilities and of course access to my email.) She seemed annoyed with the woman who seated us when she even noted there was a plug in the booth behind us where she could have sat us before 2 new customers came in. The bread was smothered in some sort of sugary butter that gave the bread a sweet savory taste. Chris overheard a woman two tables over talk on and on about how great the bread was and how she came over to CT from some western state just for the bread at this place. If you ever go the food is great, the scallops are fresh and make sure you ask for Kelly, she was a great waitress and even made sure my phone got charged for the next leg!

Making our way back east, now with my camera capability and GPS we find another roadside site , this time it was for William Williams . Michelle was back on track helping us find the next stop she had rested up slightly and was doing well this time around. I felt bad for William Williams for many reasons, first off was stuck with the same name twice. It reminds me of the Newsradio quote "Jimmy James, the man so nice they named him twice", which also goes to prove I can work a good Newsradio or Simpsons quote into any conversation. His grave is on the side of a rural highway and worst of all he went and married the daughter of someone with more power then him. Jonathan Trumbull was the Governor of CT and went on to erect a large mausoleum style grave for himself and his wife with Williams and his wife being delegated to being literal hanger ons , their stones erected on the side of the mound that made up the earthen mausoleum for his father in law. Also unlike other signers in CT he lacked a formal badge that stuck into the ground to signify his status as being involved in the revolution or an American flag, he also played second fiddle to his father in law on the sign out on the road. It should be noted that Trumbull did have a flag and a plaque stuck in the ground for him. Is this an over site or is this due to Williams late involvement in the signing of the document (check the wikipedia article.) Determined to be done with CT by nightfall we head out to the last stop.

Samuel Huntington is not in a cemetery on the side of the road, in fact it is not even on the main road. The main entrance was accessible only by a small alley sized street that ended with the cemetery gates. Upon entering the gates this cemetery is a mix of all the others we had seen already. It was well kept but a little haphazard as well. French soldiers were honored in a series of grave sites and it became clear that this cemetery had some interesting history to it as we approached a plaque and a site that had candles in front of it.

We had found the grave stone of Benedict Arnold's mother. The very thought of it was a little shivering as I had known him to be buried in London due to his back stabbing of the country during the war. The plaque was erected by named benefactors, and it claimed to be at the spot where Arnold was when they lowered his mother into the ground. The reason behind the plaque is a mystery to me, as are the candles. Who is still holding Arnold's mother in such high regard as to replace her candles every so often? I realize the sins of the son are not the sins of the mother but it still makes you think. The plaque does mention the razing of the stones of Arnold's father (I believe) and son after his treason was uncovered.


There was a large Huntington grouping of stones a hundred feet back from Arnold's mother but no Samuel. We ended up finding a babbling brook and found a bridge that took us across to a very large monument structure, we found Samuel Huntington. The local historical society is trying to get the federal government to recognize Huntington as the first US President as he was President of the Continental Congress. This could explain why the brick was new and the whole area was so well kept, it was redone in the past decade. In addition it appears that the babbling brook we heard had been re routed from an earlier meandering brook earlier on the grounds as to creating a more gushing and impressive area.

After saying fair well to Huntington we made our way to RI for the second leg of the tour. Michelle was wearing down once again and chose to stop talking to us, the GPS was still working but the battery was low once again. We took 138 and made our way to Newport RI, crossing an impressive bridge we saw a giant church like building with only the word SLOTS written on it. I knew I must have been seeing things so we started looking for a place to spend the night...