Hingham Square loses iconic building, town employees acted professionally, except for one Selectman




The Lincoln Building sits at the heart of Hingham Square.

As one can see, it was built before the Civil War.

Admittedly, it was in desperate need of renovation. Plans were in the works to address them to bring everything up to code. Because it does sit in the historic Hingham Square district there are Boards and Commissions that had a voice about changes that were proposed.

Today, the roof of the Lincoln Building collapsed due to the unprecedented amount of snow the winter of ’14-’15 has seen fit to drop upon our region.

With that roof collapse many things became evident:the professionalism of Town of Hingham employees, especially those charged with public safety; here I want to commend the Fire Chief, Mark Duff and all Hingham Fire and Police who commiserated with business owners and strategized how to safely handle the situation they were presented with.  The seriousness of the situation was conveyed by the demeanor of all those ‘within the caution tape’.

Outside the ‘caution tape’?

Board of Selectman Chair Irma Lauter decided this catastrophe for businesses in the Square( nearly every single business within the Square was closed), the way the Lincoln Building met it’s end, was a reason to post a photo on her FACEBOOK page, promoting her candidacy for re-election, a photo taken in the  Square, with the backdrop of the collapsed roof and closed businesses in the background, while she smiles and finishes a posting with a sentence: “Great to have a Selectman who is able to be there all the time!”

Excuse me?

Are you kidding me?

Is this appropriate on any level?

I was in the Square, as a life long resident, taking photos with my daughter’s boyfriend and reflecting upon the fact that The Lincoln Building existed and had been seen by my relatives going back to the Civil War – one of whom enlisted in that War from Hingham. I was sad. I looked around. I didn’t see anyone around me smiling either. I was there for one hour – roughly 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Check out my photos,  look at the concentration and seriousness of those in the Square, especially ‘within the caution tape’, then go see the ‘smiling’ Selectman on her Facebook page.

Ask yourself if this is a moment for smiling.




Watch the video at the link, and then head over to the Facebook page of Irma for Selectman~ I see NOTHING to smile about.

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Sen. Jaime Eldridge to speak about criminal justice reform at Scituate Library on Feb. 3

For anyone who’s read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander or is interested in finding out more about the problems in the Massachusetts criminal justice system and about state legislation designed to address them, this is a great opportunity.

The Scituate Democratic Town Committee is hosting the first event of its new ‘Speaker Series’ at the Scituate Public Library (85 Branch Street) on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd (7:00 PM).  The event will focus on criminal justice reform in Massachusetts. Jamie Eldridge [D Senator Acton], and Becca Miller, an aide to Tom Sannicandro [D Representative Framingham/Ashland], will speak about: ending mandatory minimums for drug offenses, bail reform, and restorative justice. Discussion to follow.

Everyone is welcome.

This topic is one that is mostly ignored.  Anyone who has not had experience with the criminal justice system, or seen its effects on those who are caught up in it, may not understand how the deck is stacked against non-violent drug offenders.  Being convicted of a felony destroys many lives that might have been salvaged.  Mandatory minimums, lack of rehabilitative services in prisons, excessive fees for those who can least afford them, and little to no support for ex-offenders are just a few of the ways that one mistake can make it nearly impossible to climb back to becoming a contributing member of the community.  Like Michelle Alexander says in her book, The New Jim Crow, it creates a permanent underclass that is detrimental to individuals and the society they are released into.

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Profound moment when one Hingham Selectman files an Open Meeting Law Violation against own BOS

.Justice Louis D. Brandeis once famously said ,

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

Justice Brandeis could have been speaking of  the purpose of The Open Meeting Law of Massachusetts:

The Open Meeting Law supports the principle that the democratic process depends on the public having knowledge about the considerations underlying governmental action. The Open Meeting Law therefore requires that most meetings of public bodies be held in public.

Plus this, as one digs deeper into the definition:

The purpose of the Open Meeting Law is to ensure transparency in the deliberations on which public policy is based. Because the democratic process depends on the public having knowledge about the considerations underlying governmental action, the Open Meeting Law requires, with some exceptions, that meetings of public bodies be open to the public. It also seeks to balance the public’s interest in witnessing the deliberations of public officials with the government’s need to manage its operations efficiently.

Back to the full quote from Justice Brandeis which seems to not only advocate Open Meetings for governmental bodies and agencies, but ALSO that

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

That’s where citizen bloggers come in. And journalists. And cartoonists, all forms of media to keep track of what is being done in our name by government.

So it is pretty damn significant when a Hingham Selectman, Paul Healey,files an Open Meeting Violation against the very Board of Selectmen that he sits on.

That bit of news was shared publicly last evening at the January 8th,2015 Hingham Board of Selectmen Meeting.

I have mentioned before on this blog, that, in my opinion,there are an extreme numbers of Executive Sessions this current Hingham BOS votes to go into. Clearly, the Open Meeting Law allows for that occurrence.

However,something that occurred in one of those Executive Sessions bothered Selectman Paul Healey so much that he took the extraordinary step of filing an Open Meeting Law violation against the Board he sits on.

On the Agenda for last night’s meeting there was an item concerning the possibility of ‘rescinding’ a vote. Turns out, the rescinding of the vote is from an Executive Session.

We find out through the benefits of HCAM( did you look at the temperature gage last night? it was COLD out – so we got to sit at home and watch HCAM, and it appears from the lack of citizens present in the room, that maybe quite a few sat at home and watched as well), that not only has he filed an Open Meeting Law Violation, he has called numerous times for the Minutes of the Executive Sessions be made public. I heard no second from the other 2 Selectmen when he mentioned that.

I heard what amounts to defensiveness on the part of the other 2 Selectmen, Chair Irma Lauter and the newest member to the Board, Paul Gannon.

I saw a lot of tap dancing around a subject only alluded to – what that vote that needed to be rescinded really signified.

What goes on behind the closed door of the Executive Session in our name as citizens~ I’m sure it is something that Justice Louis D. Brandeis would want sunlight shining on as well as publicity as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. As a citizen blogger – I will add as well, the publicity to shine on a governmental Board that seems to like the addiction of Executive Board secrecy.

Because I have faith in the ability of an informed electorate to understand what is being done in their name, here is the video from HCAM: it begins at the 16 mintute 10 second mark.

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The attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris is an attack on free thought everywhere

BelowBostonBlog would like to take this time to send sincere sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims of the attack on the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris today.

As has been reported, the publication had been threatened previously for its sometimes use of cartoons pertaining to the prophet Mohammed. According to reports, some employees, and the office site, had been given police protection because of the threats made against Charlie Hebdo.

This attack comes in the wake of the hacking of Sony Corporation ostensibly because of the film “The Interview”[ in which Sony was the distributor];  the story line makes fun of the North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un. Sony made the decision to not distribute the film, although it now can be viewed online for a fee. According to reports, it has now passed $31 million dollars in online sales.

On January 5th 2015 ,an ELECTED  county council official in Frederick County Maryland, USA, by the name of Kirby Delauter, used his Facebook page to threaten a reporter for even DARING to use his name without his authorization.

See that story here http://www.mrmediatraining.com/2015/01/06/elected-official-ill-sue-you-if-you-publish-my-name/

All of this is chilling for people around the world.

The freedom to express oneself through writing, art, film, music, cartoons, all types of media, is fundamentally democratic [small d] and helps strengthen society – allowing us ‘freedom from fear’ as FDR once famously put it.

To push out the darkness, show your support for Charlie Hedbo, see “The Interview”, and say that ELECTED official’s name out loud and in a blog or Facebook post: Kirby Delauter.

By doing so, you will have shown everyone that you stand on the side of freedom of expression.


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Happy New Year! What this blog writer wishes is more participation in civic affairs at all levels of government

Happy New Year!

What is one of my New Year’s Resolutions?

After the shameful voter numbers for the Fall Midterm election in November of ’14 came in for the United States: 36.4% of eligible voters did their civic duty, or to put it another way, meaning that 63.6% of American citizens FAILED in their civic responsibility.

Realizing that dismal fact from  above, made me determined to do something about it: as the old saying goes – think globally, act locally.

It is to try as hard as I can, whether by writing here and highlighting issues and elections, whether at the federal, state, and/or local level, to get people  - friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances, to engage once again in civic life.

Coincidentally, I am a founding Board Member of South Shore Progressives and our group is going to focus on this problem – and make no mistake, it is a problem when only 36.4% of our fellow citizens decide to participate in their most basic duty and responsibility as a citizen by voting.

We are planning a meeting, more of a social get together, for all people in our region who care about what this means for our democracy.

It is being held at The Mill Wharf in Scituate, a pub, where we can order food and drink( pay for whatever you order ) and brainstorm in a relaxed atmosphere, breaking off into small groups, how to “Re-boot Democracy”, which is our working title. We welcome all people of whatever political persuasion they adhere to.

It matters.

It matters immensely.

In 1831  Alexis de Tocqueville came to America and subsequently wrote “Democracy in America”, and in that well known, what many consider a sociological and political tract, he writes of Americans’ penchant of ‘forming associations’ of all types: religious, civic, professional, social.

That was the 19th century……something has happened from that time to somewhere around 1975-1980 to halt Americans civic engagement. A well known article looking at this newer,  more dangerous phenomenon, is “Bowling Alone” by  Robert Putnam.

The fundamental premise is that by disengaging from civic associations of all stripes( as I listed above)  it has dire effects upon our democracy.

Those effects matter.

Join us on January 16th at 6:30 pm at The Mill Wharf Pub in Scituate as we try to “Re-Boot Democracy” in our little corner of America.

Alexis de Tocqueville would want you to be there.

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End of 2014 book list~ what did you read this past year?

As the days of 2014 dwindle down, I am interested in creating a list as to what books I read this past year, as well as wondering what other people have read.

I seem to have been caught up in the anniversary of the beginning of WWI and the people and decisions that were made that still  impact our world today.

I am finishing “Lawrence in Arabia” by Scott Anderson; excellent, and filled with vivid descriptions of people besides T.E. Lawrence who lived in the region, impacted the region with their separate motivations. Highly recommend this book.

I keep books in different bags ( ask my husband,lol) and seem to be able to pick them up and ‘continue the conversation’ with them, as one would  as with an old friend.  The biography of Woodrow Wilson by A. Scott Berg called “Wilson” ties in perfectly with “Lawrence in Arabia”, especially as I am now at the point of the battle of the ratification of the League of Nations Treaty with the Senate and the description of how diplomats carved out the 20th century is amazing.

“Unbroken” – so good, I couldn’t put it down and I look forward to seeing the movie – a  true story of courage, faith, redemption, and forgiveness. The fact that it centers around WWII again reinforces my belief that all conflict in the 20th century centers around the events of WWI.

“The Boys in the Boat” another book that shows the effects of economic decisions – The Great Depression – determination, sacrifice, and the Olympics staged in Berlin which had far reaching effects on sports, and propaganda.

” Grant, A Biography” by William McFeely which I picked up at an estate sale. Another book of determination and perseverance and at the same time full of questions about the fundamental role of history. Is it the biography of people responding to the times they live in? Or do certain people actually shape history itself? Side note – Grant’s own autobiography is a book that should be on everyone’s must read list.

With the filming of the Coast Guard event around our area recently, I pulled out our copy of the book “Their Finest Hours” and re-read it. Terrific read, fast paced story of courage with lots of local color for New Englanders.

If I can think of anymore, I will add to the list.

What did YOU read this year?

Edit: I read “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick – fantastic! Just fantastic. I also read “Washington’s Spies” by Alexander Rose because I started watching AMC’s series “TURN” which is based upon his book. Nice read, try to catch the series which has been renewed for a 2nd season.

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Update on Bernie Sanders in Iowa – pretty significant that citizens come out a week before Christmas 2014

Us Senator Bernie Sanders is visiting Iowa pretty heavily in these last days of 2014.

According to The Des Moines Register, “This was Sanders’ fourth trip this year to the presidential testing grounds of Iowa, where he has booked least 13 public events over eight days. ”

The article, with photos, appeared in the December 16th online version of The Des Moines Register at this linkhttp://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2014/12/16/bernie-sanders-calls-revolution/20494315/

He does not shie away from using the word ‘revolution’ – and within the article  it is clear he does not speak down to his audience.

He wants to see if he can mobilize an effective grassroots campaign at the level of Presidential politics without the cash that comes from a few people in a nation of 315 million people who consider that political contest and office one were it is their campaign check,  or their PAC, where possibly that check can be so large, that  it alone can play for a prime-time buy of premium tv  political campaign driven media.

“Sanders said it’s extremely difficult to take on “the oligarchy” – the Koch brothers, who are worth $85 billion and are building the most powerful political organization in the country, Wall Street, drug companies, and other economic entities that spend unlimited money in politics to “literally buy candidates.”

“When you take these guys on – if you’re going to take them on – you have to know that you’re going to have the kind of grassroots support necessary to run that campaign. And that’s what I’m trying to ascertain,” Sanders said.

He said he needs to see a mass mobilization of millions of people willing to engage in “a real struggle against the billionaire class.”

“Yes! Yes,” some people answered.”

Whether he runs or not,  assessing whether he can accomplish the kind of campaign he wants to run is what this visit to Iowa is all about.

The fact that the room was full, a week before Christmas,  well over a year before the Iowa Caucus says, something pretty significant about the yearning for the type of government and the type of race for the highest office in the Land  that resonates to what Senator Sanders is speaking about achieving.

There is a dialogue in the making out in Iowa.

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Political ‘Sock puppet’; is it being employed in Hingham?

From UrbanDictionary.com :

Political Sock Puppet~

Used to describe a person who has no original thoughts, opinions, or ideas of his/her own. Instead they regurgitate the “party-line” or talking points of others;

At the opening of the December 11th Hingham Board of Selectmen Meeting, the Char, Irma Lauter, asked the Town  Administrator to announce a development concerning the topic from December 4th which consumed the Board for the last 20-25 Minutes of that Meeting despite the topic NOT being on the evening’s Agenda for 12/4/14.[Hingham Bathing Beach/Hingham Bathing Beach Trustees/Hingham Bathing Beach Deed/Use of Legal Counsel re:above]

The Town Administrator at the one minute 30 second mark says  ”We have received a bevy of emails in the office today and yesterday. When I say bevy I would define bevy as, ah , you know, maybe or 30 or 40 emails. They all have exactly the same wording. Umm, and um, they are pretty aggressive toward the Bathing Beach Trustees.  And um, and I wanted to set the record straight a little bit for folks  since I have worked with the the Trustees for several years. And they have been diligently trying to work to solve several problems at the Bathing Beach. Among them, the issue of the geese, and, and, the waste that they leave behind. Umm, these are not easy problems for us to get to. And we have laws that are bound by us. So we cannot summarily go down there, net them, take them away. They have tried most of the techniques that are known in the marketplace. They didn’t work. Um, they went back to several new ideas. They didn’t work.”

He  goes on to say that they believe it is a regional issue because scaring them off one lawn means they will go to another. He explains that they get extra money in the budget because they have agreed to take on this problem which includes land under the Selectmen’s control.

He looks up and seems to direct his gaze to the HCAM camera and says, “It is important for the public to know that they[Bathing Beach Trustees] TRY and that they continue to try. If this doesn’t work, they will look at something else. And umm, and so, I think it is important, at least for the record to say that.”

Jump to the Chair, Irma Lauter, who speaks next who invites EVERYONE to attend the next Bathing Beach Trustees meeting and who says – “I’m looking at this as also a good news story. That we did get so much interest out there that people actually took the time to write us emails. So hopefully that interest keeps coming along. And when we have vacancies on Committees? I’m kind of hoping those same 30 people decide to fill out a talent bank applications. We’d love to have you and please stay involved. Please know that the Bathing Beach and whole harbor area is being looked at.”

Where do I start?

December 4th, in my opinion, Chair Irma Lauter and newbie Selectman Paul Gannon try to ‘spin’ the Official Minutes. A legal and historic record of what occurred. They try to spin them. Be wary, be very wary, citizens of Hingham.

Then, at the end of the meeting, they spend 20-25 minutes on a topic NOT on that Evening’s Agenda and get corrected at the very last minute by a phone call from the Town Clerk that tells them that they cannot vote upon an item not on the Agenda.

If you have the audacity to attempt to spin the Minutes, what’s ignoring the Agenda? Slide further down that slope of poor governing.

They admit within those 20-25 minutes that they see no big deal calling legal counsel for any question they may have despite the budgetary restrictions this Town is looking at this year.

Think about that for one second – pick up the phone and the attorney at the other end is timing the call,  then ask them to do research and come up with an opinion? More money spent. Who said a thousand here, a thousand there, and pretty soon we are talking about real money? That’s an issue of stewardship of the the taxpayers money.

Then the issue that an elected board, elected by Town Meeting, is being ‘muscled’ by 2 Selectmen on the Board and they see no problem with that – an issue of process, and NOT following it. An issue of abuse of power and overreach. No check and balance.

Then we come come back to SPIN.

The Town Administrator tells our community in the 12/11/14 BOS Meeting that a bevy of emails – between 30 and 40 – received within 2 days of the 11th of December Meeting have been received on the topic that should never have been brought up at the December 4th BOS meeting and he describes them this way:  ”They all have exactly the same wording. Umm, and um, they are pretty aggressive toward the Bathing Beach Trustees. ”

Using exactly the same wording and pretty aggressive toward the Bathing Beach Trustees.

In my opinion, we have been described the very definition of the use of political sock puppets:Used to describe a person who has no original thoughts, opinions, or ideas of his/her own. Instead they regurgitate the “party-line” or talking points of others; 

And the Chair wants these 30 people, who used exactly the same wording in emails sent to Town Hall, about a subject that shouldn’t have even been been discussed on December 4th ,2014 because it wasn’t on the Agenda, to fill out TALENT bank applications????

Real talented. 30 Identical emails. Snark intended.

In addition, all the emails seemed ‘pretty aggressive toward the Trustees.’


In her chirpy concluding remarks of what a ‘feel good story’ this is( eye roll time), she reminds us that the Bathing Beach and whole Harbor area is being looked at. But first, 30 identical emails that are pretty aggressive toward the Bathing Beach Trustees must arrive at Town Hall.

Ignoring process, use of political sock puppets, spin, lack of good stewardship of public funds( got a question? call legal counsel and jump over the rights of an elected Board), ignore required process of government.

Watch the whole thing – it starts at the beginning of the beginning of the Meeting at lasts for 4 minutes 58 seconds.

Full disclosure: I am endorsing and volunteering for Mary Power for Hingham Selectman in May 2015.

I want a return to good government in Hingham.

The views expressed here are my own. No political sock puppets allowed.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren ~ best 10 minute Senate floor speech to help American people confront Wall St influence

No need to add words to a describe a perfect speech – just watch, listen, and become re-engaged in the political process as CITIZENS should.


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2 out of 3 Hingham Selectmen seem to lack a full understanding of following correct process of government procedures

The December 4th Board of Selectman meeting in Hingham was an eye-opener at the beginning of the meeting, which I wrote of previously in a blogpost entitled ‘Certain Hingham Selectmen  need to remember what century this town operates in’ as well as at the end of the meeting when approximately 20-25 minutes were taken up with a matter not on the posted Agenda  for that evening’s Meeting.

Beginning at the 2 hour 48 minute mark watch as an issue is brought up and acknowledged by the The Chair, Irma Lauter, that it is concerning something  not  on the BOS Agenda for that evening’s meeting and she then proceeds to read a letter into the  record from a citizen concerning the Bathing Beach deed to the Town of Hingham and it’s Trustees( a Board/Trustees which is/are elected at Town Meeting each year for terms essentially which can be for life or however long each Trustee wishes to serve) which contained a question[s] that the citizen would like answers to from legal counsel.

She finishes the letter and says words to the effect, I think these questions can be easily answered if we  - meaning the BOS, assign the questions to legal counsel and get the answers.

The newest Selectman, Paul Gannon, as his developing ‘go to habit’ continues to exhibit itself, agrees with the Chair – doesn’t see what the big deal is – what is it ? A day’s work for legal cousel? NBD for him spending taxpayer money on legal opinions – he admits within the time frame ‘discussion’ that he’s been calling counsel with questions without asking anyone.

It takes the 3rd Selectman, Paul Healey to deal with a defense on multiple levels:first, he would have preferred that the letter, be put into the record as correspondence, because, it is not on the Agenda.Nope, the Chair reads it.

He points out to the other 2 Selectmen, that the Bathing Beach Trustees are an elected Board – elected at Town Meeting, and elected pretty much for life if they so desire. You can tell that doesn’t sit well with the Chair or the newbie Selectman.

( Do they go to Town Meeting one wonders? The election of the Trustees is one of the very first things accomplished at Town Meeting every single year).

There is a brief sort of history given by Healey to the other two – this seems to happen frequently in meetings and as a Hingham citizen, all I can say and write is: Thank God Paul Healey sits on that Board  at this present time ~sort of like an in-house tutor to the other 2 Selectmen. Unfortunately, they don’t listen to him that much – I don’t think it is because they don’t like him, I think it is because they have a fundamental difference in how they view how town government operates.

In my opinion, Chair Irma Lauter doesn’t see a lot of limits or any significant check and balance on her power and authority.

Selectman Gannon seems to think that the job is about providing services to citizens outside channels, ignoring process.

Put those 2 together and the delicate balance of how town government works starts to splinter, fragment, disintegrate over a whole host of ways.Even by spinning the Minutes or ignoring the need to follow an Agenda. We have witnessed that this Fall of 2014.

Suffice to say that the clip I shared above has all of these elements within them – to the point that, despite being told by the Town Administrator that they have spent 10 minutes talking on a subject NOT on the Agenda – watch how Irma Lauter insists, insists mind you – that she had asked that it be put on the Agenda and the Town Administrator calmly says no, never heard from you on that – she indignantly replies – ‘I did, I sent you an email’; she becomes absorbed in going through her papers, lets the conversation wander, she is going to FIND that email and you just KNOW she is going to wave it, brandish it about, and practically get giddy with the words HERE IT IS!!!! SEE. RIGHT HERE!!!……..only, her extensive search turns up nothing, zero, nada – so does she apologize to the Town Administrator? Hell no. She says, ‘I will re-send that email’. I could almost hear the hrroumph at home  she seemed so annoyed.

The real kicker comes when the BOS are about to vote on something NOT ON THE AGENDA.

The newbie Selectman had read an extensive motion, Paul Healey was not going to second it, and what do you know? The Town Clerk calls someone in the audience to have them relay this important message to the BOS sitting there in view of HCAM : YOU ARE NOT AllOWED TO VOTE ON MATTERS THAT ARE NOT ON THE AGENDA.


Is there a school we can send Chair Lauter and Selectman Paul Gannon to re-familiarize themselves with Roberts Rules?

At least until May, when we can send the Chair Irma Lauter packing frm Town Hall permanently.

Vote Mary Power for Selectman May of 2015.

Full disclosure:I am endorsing and vounteering for Mary Power for Hingham Selectman come May 2015. I am a lifelong Hingham resident.

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