Another reason to be worried about Whittemore

Update on the Whittemore situation. The silent schoolyard and lack of any official news on Whittemore progress aren't the only things that worry Borderline about the Whittemore reconstruction project. This news article in Globe West about shoddy construction and lawsuit-related delays on other local school projects in Newton, Weston, and Waltham really makes me wonder if the Waltham City Government is setting Whittemore reconstruction up for more pain, by announcing that they are low on money and want to cut back on extras.

The Whittemore kids are stuck in an inferior temporary building right now for two years. It's very old. There's no playground. The gym is tiny. It's next to one of Waltham's busiest streets. It would be very, very bad if the system failed them for yet another year for delays and construction-related problems.

Don't let it happen!

Labels: , ,



Tomorrow morning, guess what time the Borderline family has to get up?

Yes, like millions of other Americans, we have to travel on Thanksgiving. It only happens once every other year or so that we have to travel out of state, but this year it's our turn to hit the road, or in this case, the airport. Get to Logan by 6:30 am (along with about 20% of the population of Boston) and get to our flight. Then it's five hours to the Southwest (Mesa, to be exact, which is a part of Phoenix), for a weird Thanksgiving routine in 80 degree weather. Then back on Saturday.

Borderline will be groaning for more than just turkey ...



Plans for the Waltham Watch Factory: Worse than condos

Developers in Waltham. They just won't give up! From the Boston Globe:
Developers have applied for a special permit from the Waltham City Council that would allow them to create a 30-unit "apartment-hotel" at the site of the Waltham Watch factory complex on Crescent Street.

"It's kind of a new concept," said Andrew Albers, project manager for Colomba Brothers Development Corp. "It's for stays longer than in a hotel but shorter than a year's lease on an apartment."
Actually, Andrew, it's kind of an old concept, that Waltham has lots of experience with. Excecutive hotels, welfare hotels, long-term hotels, dormitories ... the type of facility aimed at people who have no intention of putting down roots here. Even condos would be better than this.

Borderline hopes our elected leaders don't suck up to the Waltham Watch Factory developers, like many of them did earlier this year to support development near Rte. 128.

Labels: , , ,

Despite the Hynes/New Media Strategics fiasco, Verizon's master plan for Newton is working

Goal: Verizon wants to increase its business in Newton and other local cities where there are lots of rich people.

Problem: The law

Strategy 1: Get high-profile mainstream media outlets to parrot your PR and marketing lines, like this report from the Boston Globe does:

Verizon touts higher Internet speeds, more cable channels, a larger library of movies, and better quality -- all at prices that would be competitive with the town's only other cable provider, Comcast.
Strategy 2: Get high-profile municipal politicians on your side by using fake letter-writing campaigns, like this one, orchestrated by Verizon's Stephanie S. Lee and Santoro:
".... If you are interested in more competition, please send an email directly to Mayor Cohen to let him know you want cable choice. A sample letter is provided for your convenience. Please add personal information and comments to customize your letter, if you prefer. ...

Subject: Bring more cable choice to Newton

Dear [ Decision Maker ],

Verizon has invested millions of dollars in Newton by installing its advanced fiber optic network, which offers video, internet and phone services. Verizon not only offers us another alternative to cable, but will provide residents with a more robust channel line up, more HDTV offerings, and thousands of shows and movies on demand -- at lower prices than we are paying today.

The City of Newton has been a pioneer in fostering the spirit of cable competition. With the addition of Verizon's video service, we will be among the few municipalities in Massachusetts to provide consumers with three options for cable TV.

Today residents in nearly 20 Massachusetts communities are enjoying Verizon's FiOS TV. Newton residents also deserve the best technology available along with a superior choice for cable TV.

I am writing to ask that you move quickly to approve Verizon's application for a video license so that Newton residents can benefit from more competition and the capabilities of this advanced fiber network.
Strategy 3: Try to astroturf local blogs like Borderline.

Result: Success, probably, judging by page 3 of the Nov. 15 Newton Tab.

Labels: , , ,


The type of ratings Arbitron gets for $1

Two weeks ago Borderline got a letter from a company called Arbitron. The envelope contained a letter, and a crisp $1 bill.

Wow! People demand money from Borderline all the time -- I'm used to getting dunned for unpaid bills a few times a week! But getting free money, unsolicited? What's going on here?

From what Borderline understands, Arbitron produces "ratings" for radio programs, which stations and networks use to make programming decisions and adjust advertising rates. For instance, the data that Arbitron gathers help determine how much WBZ can charge Subaru of New frigging England for running 30 second radio spots during our drive-time commute. There is another company, Nielsen, which does the same thing for TV programming.

Anyway, Borderline pocketed the dollar bill and threw away the letter without reading it. Some people actually like to reveal their innermost radio habits to a bunch of statisticians. But not Borderline. I don't know how they got my name, but I sure didn't volunteer for help-out-the-advertisers duty. I feel no obligation to take part in whatever schemes this company uses to make u- I mean gather statistics upon which multi-million dollar PR decisions are made.

Then the calls started.

Every night at dinner. Early in the morning on weekends. Late at night on weekdays. Borderline never answered. There were hangups, recorded messages, and sometimes, breathing from a real live stats-gathering human. They used legitimate caller ID most of the time, but a few times they didn't. I could still tell it was Arbitron, because of the area 410 code. Later Borderline looked at the caller ID list for these numbers, and they all led back to the same number:

(410) 312-8222

If you Google it, this weird mashup appears, that seems to be charting telemarketers and the like who are breaking the federal "Do Not Call" list. Borderline signed up for this "Do not call" registry service several years ago, to stop the flood of unwanted solicitations at dinnertime, but Arbitron apparently feels they are above federal law because they have a "business relationship" (an exception to the Do Not Call rules) with me. Yeah, that's right. Arbitron thinks that by virtue of the $1 bill they sent me, they now own me and my time.

So, yeah, I feel used. It's almost as bad as when Patrick J Hynes and New Media Strategics tried to co-opt this blog for some corporate lobbying purpose.

Anyway, now Borderline is torn between doing nothing, or answering the phone and giving these jerks and piece of mind, or answering the phone and lying about all the fringe radio programs I listen to on WBRS, AM talk radio, and the like.

But I'll probably end up doing nothing.

Arbitron sucks!

Labels: , ,


Newton Drives Borderline Crazy

Seems like crappy weather really brings out the worst in local drivers. Yesterday it was some yahoo driving a green Newton Roofing pickup truck (truck no. 1) who cut me off in the front of the Newton police station on Washington Street.

Then this morning, this jerk in a gray Ford Escort sedan pulls a U-y on Comm ave without signalling. He just pulled off the right side of the road, like he had to look at a map or stop the car, then swerved sharp left, forcing me and the Boston Globe truck in back of me to slam on the brakes.

His car had a bumper sticker on the window, "100% Jesus." Shoulda been "100% idiot."

Labels: ,

Who is Joe Publius?

Borderline and 49 other people -- most of them current residents of Newton who are involved in or follow the local political scene -- have received a series of emails from someone calling himself "Joe Publius." The emails, and the website they directs us to, are dedicated to questioning the use of CPA funds for the Newton South Astroturf project.

Here's the text of the first message, which Borderline received on November 10:
Hello. On June 21, 2006 the Community Preservation Committee voted 7-2 to recommend to CPA funding for the Newton South synthetic turf improvement project.

Now the Board of Aldermen is being asked to okay CPA money to pay for something that is essentially a School Department proposal.

Says who? Check out the clips from the CPC meeting – statements by the committee members Mr. McMillan and Mr. Dickson on www.joepublius.com.

Here attached is a clip from www.joepublius.com. Enjoy!

For more on this and other insights go to www.joepublius.com.

Feel free to share this e-mail with the grassroots growing near you.
The second installment came on Nov. 12, and followed the same format, referring us to the clips he had gathered (see sample), apparently by pointing a digital videocamera at a television screen, which was showing the CPA/Astroturf debate.

By now people on the email list were beginning to notice, and someone fired this message off to all recipients, including Borderline:
I asked privately and now I ask publicly: I would like to know who is behind Joe Publius. You have answered that you don't want to "distract" the reader's ability to get the facts by knowing who is putting up the web site. However, you have provided parts of people's conversations from a variety of meetings. These bits and pieces can be edited and put back together in ways which support or not. Unless you are willing to say who you are - I for one find that fact a huge distraction to the believability of the material you present.
This email prompted a reply from Jeff Seideman (also on the list of 50), who agreed that the anonymity was distracting, but noted that the clips seemed legit and also presented the community preservation committee in a new light.

So who is Joe Publius? Stay tuned ...

Labels: , ,


It's all about the Ws: The Herald confuses Waltham and Watertown

More sloppy reporting, this time in the Boston Herald. The news article is about a corporate whistleblower named Paul Carpilio, who used to work for a big mutual fund company named Putnam Investments. Carpilio apparently uncovered a scheme to overstaff a Putnam customer service center, which allegedly resulted in big bonuses for greedy Putnam executives.

Corporate bigwigs feathering their own nests through trickery and mismanagement? No surprise there. But the Herald made a slip as to the origins of Mr. Carpilio, which makes me wonder about the accuracy of the other "facts" listed in the article. Check this:
The Waltham native just traded his black double-breasted suits for chinos and a brown leather bomber jacket. This month he opened the deli in a Plymouth industrial park to keep the money flowing when he isn’t consulting for other companies - or shuttling his three kids to hockey or soccer practice.
Then, at the bottom of the article:
As for Carpilio, money, he says, is not what he’s after.

“Where I come from, it’s about respect,” the Watertown native says. “I give respect, and I expect to be respected back.”
Well, Mr. Carpilio, you just got disrespected big time. The Herald can't even get your hometown right!

Labels: , , ,


Borderline's election analysis: TV news sucks

Sorry the lack of updates. Like a lot of people these days, Borderline has to take work-related overseas trips every now and then.

But I did make it back in time for the elections. I was surprised by the wine vote, but hey, Massachusetts has been a haven for bizarre alcohol-related rules since the 1600s. Why stop now?

I won't comment on the local or national races -- other local blogs are better on that front (Check out local reax from H2OTown, The Newton Tab Blog, and The Garden City Blog).

But I will make one observation regarding televised media coverage: What the heck happened to objectivity? Elections are serious business, and personal feelings of reporters are supposed to stay off camera. Right? But half of the local TV people couldn't stop smiling. Even on channel 44, MacNeil or Lehrer or whatever his name had this huge grin on his face at one point, for the first time since, like, 1978.

The local Fox 25 political coverage was odd. Their chief political reporter, Battenfeld, sounded like he was going through puberty -- his voice was really cracking. At least Bob Ward managed to look serious, even though he was at party central -- aka Deval Patrick HQ.

Eventually, once it became clear who was coming out on top, I decided to wait until the morning for real political analysis in the Globe and NYT, which goes way beyond the 100-word sound bytes that pass for talking-heads analysis on TV.

I then switched to South Park on 38. Good episode, too -- Cartman as a robot!

Labels: , ,