Monday, September 26, 2016

Local Pols Who Could Fill In For Brady

GOUVEIA: Local officials who can fill in at quarterback for the Patriots

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size
Posted: Sunday, September 25, 2016 10:46 pm | Updated: 11:20 pm, Sun Sep 25, 2016.

As this is written, our beloved New England Patriots are undefeated at 3-0. And this is without superstar quarterback and avocado ice cream aficionado Tom Brady, who is serving time on a bum rap related to the possibility he might have known about something someone else might have done.
And in fact, the team's last victory was without Brady's backup, the equally handsome Jimmy Garappolo, who was just short of brilliant in the six quarters he played before suffering what the Patriots would no doubt call an upper body injury, but is rumored to be a sprained shoulder.

That led to the local franchise starting rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett this past Thursday night. Belichick handed the youngster the keys to the luxury car, told him to stay on the highway and go slow, and bring it back in one piece. He did all that, and then some.
But in the process, Brissett injured his thumb, and now may be unable to play. That means the Patriots might not have anyone on their active roster who has ever taken a snap from center in the league, be it preseason or a real game. And despite the obvious and undeniable genius of Belichick, that is a bad thing.
So the Pats are in the market for a quarterback. It is obviously a temporary gig, lasting until Brady returns following the next game. They simply need someone new to drive the car for a week and not put any scratches in the shiny paint.
So I would like to make a suggestion to them. Instead of going through the waiver wire and paying huge sums of money for an alleged professional, why not take the amateur route? They could bring on someone with demonstrated leadership abilities who won't cost them many hundreds of thousands of dollars.
No, I'm not talking about college or high school athletes. I was thinking local political leaders. They would no doubt be less expensive, bring some area interest and undoubtedly provide some new perspective.
So in the spirit of supporting the local team, I offer my suggestions for local political types who might fill in at QB a week from Sunday. And if any of them need an agent, they know how to reach me.
Mansfield Selectman George Dentino - With a solid reputation for toughness, Dentino would be a good choice. As a chairman he has provided leadership, and it is well known he often plays hurt. He's a Belichick kind of guy.
Seekonk Town Administrator Shawn Cadime - a longshot at best, but Cadime is known for his ability to switch sides relatively quickly. He is no stranger to short-term stays with different teams. This might be just the role for him.
Foxboro Selectman Virginia Coppola - this is another veteran who brings considerable leadership experience to the task at hand. Her biggest strength appears to be clock management, making her ideal for the two-minute drill and finishing on time. But she's not a fan of loud music, so that might have to be limited in the stadium.
Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas - you have to be tough to play quarterback, and Dumas knows how to take a shot, get back in the huddle, and run the next play. He is smart, ambitious and determined - but also knows when it's time to take a knee and come out in the second half with new adjustments.
North Attleboro Selectman Patrick Reynolds - versatility is important, and Reynolds has shown an ability to play many different positions. His penchant for shifting and putting people in motion can definitely help reach the goal line. The main question is whether a consistent level of play can be maintained.
The Norton Planning Board - you could choose from this group when you want to mix up the signal-calling. The other team has a hard time understanding what they are trying to do - unfortunately, their own team often has the same problem. Just give them plenty of notice about when the game starts.
There are no doubt many other fine local choices, but this is only for one week. And if they all turn you down, Mr. Kraft, I'm available. But I don't want Brady or Garoppolo getting jealous.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Charter School Question Should Be Defeated

Charter School Question Should Be Defeated

Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2016 11:00 pm
On Nov. 8, Massachusetts voters will decide if the cap on charter schools should be raised. If approved, Question 2 will allow for up to 12 new charter schools per year and-or expansion of existing ones.
This is a very complicated issue, far too complicated to be decided by a ballot referendum question that does not lend itself to sufficient discussion and debate of the facts. It will have far-reaching effects, not just on our educational system, but on local municipal finances and services in every Massachusetts city and town.
This should be decided by our Legislature. It requires careful scrutiny, detailed study, impact statements on all services to be affected by its potential passage — and most important of all, a careful determination of what the educational impact is on the vast majority of school children.
But the truth is, our legislators and the governor have gladly passed this responsibility along to the voters. It takes the pressure off them, much the same way Proposition 2 1/2 did more than three decades ago. It is yet another attempt to solve 351 different and individual problems by applying a single broad solution, rather than looking at the real reasons that caused them in our public schools.
Having said that, the fact remains it is indeed on the ballot. And the question is — what should be done with it?
There is no doubt in my mind this well-intentioned, but ill-advised, proposal should be defeated. While it would create some excellent schools and provide wonderful opportunities for a limited number of students, the overall impact on the public school system at large and the quality of life in our cities and towns would be detrimental to the entire concept of public education — which originated here in Massachusetts.
The problem is not the concept — it is the funding. It is always the funding. The tie between education and money may be distasteful and controversial, but it is also undeniable and critical. Quality education costs more money than bad education, although in the long run bad education is much more expensive to society.
Charter school supporters will tell you the funding of those schools does not come at the expense of public schools. That simply is not true. It can be spun in such a way that it appears to be true, but it absolutely is not.
The single most misleading statistic in Massachusetts politics is the “per-pupil cost” when discussing education. To explain exactly why would take more room than this space allows, but more than 40 years of local governmental experience has proven this to me. That is the center of this argument.
It is noted that aid to schools is not decreased when a student leaves for a charter school, but merely redistributed. That is phony math. If the per-pupil cost is calculated at $5,000 each, adding one student does not increase costs by that amount. Taking one away does not decrease it by that amount either.
Charter school proponents note local school districts don’t lose state aid in the first year. That is technically true, but the long-term financial effect is potentially devastating.
But most of all, the real question keeps coming up: Shouldn’t we be fixing the system for the majority, and not just creating an attractive alternative for a small minority?
The selection process for charter schools is largely random, and proponents say everyone has an equal chance of being selected. Assuming that to be true, it still makes many wonder why all this effort, money and dedication to new approaches isn’t being done on a larger scale within the current system?
Is this just a way to break the teacher unions? If it is, say so and don’t play games.
If we need to change the public school system, let’s do it. Let’s commit to improvements, both philosophical and monetary. Let’s get away from making education largely a function of the property tax and work toward eliminating the great inequity from community to community.
But this is not the answer. This is giving up on our current system without admitting it. This is failing most of the very children we seek to help.
We should defeat Question 2, and work on helping all students.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Turkey Time In Foxboro Comes Early

Posted: Friday, September 9, 2016 12:15 am
If you talked turkeys in Foxboro during the late ’80s and early ’90s, it was assumed you were discussing the local NFL franchise.

But in recent weeks, it has been actual turkeys — the kind that allegedly greeted the Pilgrims — who have come to dominate the news in this quiet, suburban town. And while many local folks are calling fowl, the feathered fiends are launching attacks on the populace in some strange type of “Thanksgiving Revenge” campaign.
It is not unusual for turkeys to flock to Foxboro, something political observers have claimed for years now. Shedding their anonymity, they are emerging and strutting their stuff around town. There have been numerous reports of aggressive birds literally launching unprovoked attacks on townspeople. It is unclear if the victims were registered voters or associated with any local politicians.

There are totally unsubstantiated rumors that the Kraft Group has some connection to the troublesome newcomers. The story goes that Bob Kraft invested heavily in turkeys when he was attempting to locate a casino in town, figuring this would save money for the resort hotel restaurants. When selectmen refused to listen to his plans, he deliberately turned them loose. Now his plot has come home to roost.

To get to the bottom of this situation, yours truly went undercover and infiltrated the bird gang. Those who read this space regularly should have no trouble believing I could blend in with a bunch of turkeys. What I discovered was both shocking and remarkable.

The turkeys do indeed have political aspirations. In fact, they plan on putting up a candidate or two for selectmen in the next Foxboro election.

Several turkeys believe they have the right stuff to win a seat on the town’s highest board. They think after years of being on the table, they deserve a seat at the table. And they are more than a little fried that it has taken so long for them to be recognized as a real threat. Now they want their just desserts.
I discovered the birds are quite smart, and manage to stay abreast of local politics. They believe their knowledge and ability to get close to voters gives them an important leg up on their competition. And frankly, they are starting to get under the skin of even the most seasoned politicians.

Their immediate goal is to put at least one of their own on the board of selectmen, and if they can also gain a seat on another elected board — well, that would just be gravy.

Some of the current town officials are tired of being roasted by the politically aggressive birds. They are totally fed up, and believe the intruders need to be dressed down a bit.

Some selectmen have proposed using a curfew, seeing how well it has worked at Gillette Stadium. There would be a timer involved, and when the turkeys’ time is up, an alarm will sound. If the turkeys go over their allotted time, they would be lambasted with a series of fines.

Selectmen can’t seem to agree on just how long to leave the turkeys in town. They don’t want to take them out too soon, but are afraid of getting burned if they leave them in too long. It’s a difficult decision, as they currently have a lot on their plates.

As the plight of Foxboro residents has been broadcast across the nation, national political figures have taken note. Hillary Clinton has offered to provide a free private server for the birds. The Trump campaign issued a statement saying the turkeys are “in no way associated with any particular wing of our party.”

No one is exactly sure where these pests come from. There is some concern over whether they are native turkeys, or perhaps refugees. If found to have come here illegally, they will be returned to wherever they came from. Assuming, of course, that relations between Foxboro and wherever that is have properly thawed.

Word has it some of them might be from arch-rival Mansfield, bringing new meaning to the annual Thanksgiving football contest. This year, the Turkey Day battle is a whole new ballgame.
The situation is getting pre-heated. Let’s hope everyone keeps their heads.

That’s sage advice.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

Friday, September 2, 2016

My Wife's Eternal Battle With The GPS

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on September 2, 2016.

My Wife's Eternal Battle With The GPS

Posted: Thursday, September 1, 2016 9:52 pm | Updated: 9:54 pm, Thu Sep 1, 2016.
This past weekend my wife and I attended a wedding in New Hampshire. It was a beautiful and joyful event, and we had a great time.
But the drive up was pure hell. The entire trip consisted of bickering, angry words and terrible threats. It’s amazing there was not some kind of violent incident.
No, the two of us weren’t fighting. And yes, we were the only people in the car. So who was all this hostility between?
It was my wife and the only thing that irritates her more than I do — the GPS.
My Beloved harbors a hatred and resentment of the anonymous, faceless automated voice that emanates from somewhere inside our dashboard, and occasionally from her phone.
And before you ask — yes, she uses it. All the time. By her own choice. She has a love-hate relationship with the computerized entity that perhaps only I can truly understand and appreciate.
And no — it is not a male/female thing. The voice on my wife’s GPS is definitely female, and that, too, is her choice. I asked why, and her answer made perfect sense in the logic-channeled world in which she often resides.
“There’s no way I’m going to let some man tell me what to do,” she explained patiently.
When I tell you my wife hates the GPS, I mean it. You have to see it to fully appreciate the depth of feeling. She truly believes the imaginary person in there is deliberately trying to confuse and trick her, while at the same time not believing a single thing it tells her.
As soon as she enters the destination, my wife immediately begins to challenge the satellite system. The route it outlines is never the best way, and must always be ridiculed. Then she starts planning just how she can deviate from the outlined plan.
And when she veers off the suggested route and the voice starts saying “Route recalculation” over and over, her fury is uncontainable.
Once underway, she does not want to hear from the infernal machine. When I patiently point out it is only doing what she asked it to do, she becomes infuriated. She claims she can look at the map without having to be lectured to by this “thing.”
Of course, looking at the screen while driving really isn’t practical. As a result, she grudgingly turns up the volume again.
“Stay left, and prepare to turn left in one mile,” the soothing voice informs us. That brings a sharp retort and an exasperated reply.
“I’m already left! If I go any further left, I’ll be in someone’s yard,” she mutters to no one in particular. A few moments later the soothing GPS voice tells us to “follow the road for 20 miles.”
That sets off another tirade. “Follow the road? What does she think I’m going to follow? Idiot!”
The fact all this comes from the woman who 10 minutes prior was cuddling her infant grandson just makes it all that more surprising. As I recall her earlier telling her other two grandsons to stop fighting and be nice to each other, I fleetingly wonder if the voice of a young child giving her directions would be received in a more accepting way.
Not that I have never seen this side of my usually mild-mannered spouse, mind you. I have a certain skill set that can bring this out in her even faster than the GPS.
But it has made me wonder — is GPS rage a real thing? Could it be a condition of some kind? Do other people do this too? My wife insists it is commonplace, but I have my doubts.
So if any of you suffer from “GPS Syndrome” or know someone who does, I’d love to hear from you. I’d be glad to know about any suggestions for treatment or a cure.
Or if nothing else, how you protect yourself in the car.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.