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April 18, 2014

What was the FIRST local news outlet to report on misdeeds at Walpole Community Television?

What was the FIRST local news outlet to report on the Sewer and Water Commission’s “Agenda-gate” controversy?

What was the FIRST local news outlet to report on a scandal in the Walpole Animal Control Department?

What was the FIRST local news outlet to report on the ZBA Chairwoman’s familial relationship to a housing developer?

What was the FIRST local news outlet to report on Selectman Michael Berry’s resignation?

What is the ONLY local news outlet to provide detailed analyses of town employee salaries?

Which local news outlet has the BEST and MOST RELIABLE political sources in town?

Which local news outlet consistently churns out articles based on ORIGINAL, HARD-HITTING, QUALITY research?

Which local news outlet COVERS town board meetings and issues that no other news outlet covers?

Which local news outlet DOES NOT REST until decision-makers are held accountable?

Which local news outlet is FEARED at Town Hall?

Which local news outlet leaves readers MORE INFORMED about local issues than people who do not read it?

Which local news outlet does all of the above at NO EXPENSE to readers?

 

The ANSWER: SAM OBAR 180

If you want to be INFORMED, if you want to KNOW THE FACTS, if you want to hear FROM THE SOURCES IN THE KNOW, SAM OBAR 180 is where YOU want to be.

Stanton is new ZBA chair

April 17, 2014

Jim Stanton is now chairman of the Walpole ZBA, after the board reorganized last evening.

Matthew Zuker is now vice chair.

Craig Hiltz, who was recently appointed by Selectmen, will serve as Clerk.

Former chairwoman Susanne Murphy, who is under fire for her relationship with a controversial 40B housing developer, is still a member of the board. Sources in the know said that Murphy willingly stepped down from the chairmanship.

Stanton entered the race for Walpole Selectman last week.

Stanton will run for Selectman

April 10, 2014

Walpole ZBA member Jim Stanton, who maintains significant popularity and name recognition among Walpole voters due to his two runs for state representative in 2010 and 2012, took out nomination papers today to run for the two-year Selectman seat being vacated by Selectman Mike Berry in the June town election.

The deadline to pull papers is next Thursday, Apr. 17 (previous articles on 180 have incorrectly reported that the deadline was Apr. 10).

He has until April 22 to collect signatures.

Stanton enters the race as a strong favorite to win the election over Finance Committee member Alice Susan Lawson, who took out papers for the seat earlier this week. Former Selectman Bill Hamilton also took out papers, but has indicated he will bow out in favor of Stanton.

Stanton will start his campaign against Lawson with significant name recognition and a campaign network already in place. During his campaigns against Democratic State Rep. John Rogers, Stanton ran and won by significant margins in half of Walpole’s eight precincts. The other four precincts are not in the same legislative district.

Stanton also has more than $3,000 in left over funds from those two campaigns, according to his year-end 2013 report filed with the OCPF. Under state law, Stanton could transfer all or part of that war chest for use in a municipal campaign if he wanted to.

As a member of the ZBA, Stanton’s biggest potential liability is the ongoing Moose Hill 40B scandal affecting his board. However, Stanton himself has never been directly criticized for any mistakes, and had no direct role in the scheduling error. ZBA Chairwoman Susanne Murphy and Town Administrator Michael Boynton have both received the most ire from that scandal.

Lawson herself has liabilities, as a member of a Finance Committee that is for the most part a “rubber stamp” for bureaucrats at Town Hall. Lawson was an outspoken advocate of the 2012 override, and supported the school department’s recent request to transfer a $300,000 OPEB contribution to subsidize the school department’s projected FY 2015 shortfall. Also, Lawson was a strident advocate at the 2012 Special Town Meeting in favor of setting a precedent that the town charter could be ignored for the sake of political expediency. She attempted to defend that outrageous opinion in a series of written diatribes in The Walpole Times at the time.

Both Lawson and Stanton hail from Precinct 2 in East Walpole, and both are attorneys.

During Stanton’s 2012 legislative campaign, Lawson publicly endorsed Rogers.

Since Lawson is not widely known in the community, she will be relying mostly on riding the coattails of Selectman Mark Gallivan, who is running for re-election this year to a full three-year term against likely opponent Joseph Monahan. Since Stanton’s support base includes many Gallivan supporters, her task will be significantly harder.

Monahan running for Selectman

April 8, 2014

Edited 4/9/14: The deadline to pull nomination papers is actually Apr. 17, not Apr. 10. 180 apologizes for the error.

Main Street resident Joseph Monahan has announced that he will run for Selectman in this year’s town election against incumbent Mark Gallivan.

The 61-year-old told 180 he is upset about the overspending in town government, particularly the new foot bridge constructed over Spring Brook near Town Hall. That bridge, derisively referred to as “the bridge to nowhere” by some local fiscal conservatives, cost local taxpayers about $80,000. The bridge was part of a larger effort by the Master Plan Implementation Committee and Planning Board to beautify the downtown area. It has become a polarizing object in political circles, with some seeing it as a symbol of Town Hall’s extravagance. Though taxpayers footed $80,000 for the bridge, much of the new park area surrounding it was provided by donated labor and supplies.

Monahan, a 15-year resident of Walpole with two young kids, said he recognizes his long odds at getting elected, against a relatively strong incumbent Gallivan, but he plans to run a grassroots door-to-door campaign.

Monahan said his campaign will be well-funded. Gallivan is expected to spend heavily, just as he did in his first race for the Board in 2011.

Monahan also plans to run simultaneously for Town Meeting Representative in Precinct 1.

With a little more than 48 hours left for candidates a little more than a week to pull papers for town offices, former Selectman Bill Hamilton is the only other announced candidate in the race against Gallivan. Hamilton has indicated he may step aside to allow one strong candidate to have a clear shot at Gallivan.

Certain other RTMs are still looking at running against Gallivan, but they are up against the clock to make a decision.

Meanwhile, in the race to succeed Selectman Michael Berry, Finance Committee member Sue Lawson and Hamilton are the only candidates who have taken out papers. ZBA member Jim Stanton is still considering running in that race.

In other election news, Precinct 8 RTM Beth Muccini took out nomination papers to run for the open School Committee seat left by Allan Cameron, who is stepping down after one term because of professional commitments. Muccini supported the 2012 override. So far, Muccini and incumbent School Committee member Sue Flynn Curtis are the only candidates who have taken out papers to run for the two available seats on School Committee.

The race for Moderator, with attorney Tom Brady running against incumbent Moderator Jon Rockwood, is expected to be the marquee race of this year’s town election. Both are very strong candidates.

Bellingham constructing police station without override

April 7, 2014

The town of Bellingham, Mass., hometown of Walpole Town Administrator Michael Boynton, is in the process of constructing a $6.8 million police station, without a debt exclusion override.

How are they doing it? Simple: by reducing operating expenses and using a 20-year bond to pay for the project.

According to the Milford Daily News, the one-story facility will be 13,636 square feet, including a safer booking area, “a more community-friendly lobby,” and an emergency operations center. The facility is loosely modeled after the Arlington Police Station, and was designed by Kaestle Boos Associates Inc., a Foxborough architectural firm.

A committee was tasked with keeping the project within $6.3 million to avoid the need for an override. “It started with a $9 million two-story facility and whittled that down to a 14,500-square-foot one-story building,” according to the Milford Daily News.

The town will make annual payments of $335,000 to pay off the bond for the building over 20 years.

Selectman Michael Soter told the Milford Daily News: “We scaled it back to what we believe the town can afford, and only what the town can afford.”

Soter and his board are welcome in Walpole any time. We need that type of attitude at Walpole Town Hall.

To compare the two communities, Bellingham has a population of 16,332 (Walpole has about 24,000 people); Bellingham has a municipal budget of slightly higher than $47 million (Walpole has a budget of about $80 million); and Bellingham has about 30 total police employees (Walpole has about 40 police employees).

Walpole is proposing a two-story police station on South Street that would be included as part of a larger $30 million plan to build a new fire station, new senior center, Town Hall renovations, and new DPW facilities along with a police station. That figure would be reduced by $10 million through the use of one-time money available in the budget, so voters would be presented with a $20 million debt exclusion override.

What do you think? Can Walpole afford a new police station within our existing operating budget?

Berry seat attracts immediate interest

April 7, 2014

Edited 4/9/14: The deadline to pull nomination papers is actually Apr. 17, not Apr. 10. 180 apologizes for the error.

Soon after Walpole Selectman Michael Berry announced his resignation on Thursday, two candidates have already thrown their hat in the ring to take over the two remaining years of his term in the June election.

Finance Committee Vice Chair member Alice Susan Lawson has spent the last several days building support for a Selectman campaign.

Lawson was a strong supporter of the 2012 override, supported the school department’s recent move to postpone the town’s annual OPEB contribution, supported the school department’s irresponsible use of free cash to plug their budget deficit in 2011, and also supported setting a precedent in 2012 that the town charter could be ignored for the sake of political expediency during that year’s Special Town Meeting.

Former Selectman Bill Hamilton, a perennial candidate for the town’s top board, also took out nomination papers for the Berry seat. Hamilton took out papers for Selectman Mark Gallivan’s seat, as well. Up until then, Gallivan had not attracted any opposition in this year’s election.

Hamilton told 180 he may step aside if another candidate, with similar views, steps up.

ZBA member Jim Stanton told 180 he is thinking about running for Berry’s seat, as well. A few other current RTMs are still making up their minds.

If no other candidate emerges to take on either Lawson or Gallivan, both would roll over Hamilton easily.

The deadline to take out nomination papers for Selectman is just four days away, Thursday Apr. 17. The deadline to turn papers in is April 22.

Berry resigns

April 3, 2014

Walpole Selectman Michael Berry has resigned, effective June 6. A vacant two-year term will be on the June ballot.

In an interview with 180, Berry cited increased work commitments.

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