Monthly Archives: July 2009

Throw it in the trash


This sign was heading to wherever Amherst garbage goes.

This sign was heading to wherever Amherst garbage goes.

 A few weeks ago I was walking in Amherst and spotted this sign in the trash outside a Bank of America. Now that I think of it, it is all pretty ironic.

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Out of pocket donations to Sunderland Elementary School?

The article “Music, art technology cut in Sunderland,” by Ben Storrow, appeared in The Recorder Friday.

The article summarized cut and reduced positions and programs.

The comments rage back and forth, regarding the override, yet seem to lead towards support for the arts.

Some parents are concerned about the large class sizes, reduced teachers’ aids, and the arts programs.

WWLP highlighted parents’ concerns in a news package and article. A Sunderland Elementary School student, Sammi Penza, comments on the music programs.

CBS 3 Springfield also reported on cuts the school faces. Sunderland Elementary School principal, Penny Spearance, commented.

Monetary donations to the school and volunteering has been brought up, reports show.

An Associated Press article, “Parents pass the hat to make up for school cuts,” highlighted similar budget cut issues of schools throughout the country.

The AP’s Donna Gordon Blankinship reported:

The practice comes with some controversy.

Some fear it will only widen the gap between rich and poor school systems and set a dangerous precedent that will make it easier for politicians to shortchange public education. In New York City, parent groups ran afoul of the teachers union for using their own money to hire classroom aides.

Readers are welcome to post their thoughts and knowledge, and take this very unscientific poll posted below.

If there are parents of children in the school that want to share their story via video, I’d be willing to document this aspect of the defeated override.

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Received a nice note from Sunderland selectman

I received a nice comment from Sunderland Scott Bergeron.

I appreciate the comment and all the views my posts and videos have gotten. I am quite flattered. However, on the topic of reporting, I didn’t do that much reporting (access for blogging is a difficult thing). Most of what I did was compile information. I tried to keep everything as fair and balanced as possible because I am a journalism major. Of course, I wish I could always do more. I just do what I can.

Thank you viewers. I hope you continue to watch and support my work. Of course I will try to deliver the best possible work I can achieve.

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Sunderland override poetry

I’m wondering what people think of this little sign I found (yes late and after the override vote). What does it mean? What was the author trying to convey besides rejection of Sunderland’s proposed override?

Poetry or propaganda against the Sunderland override

Poetry or propaganda against the Sunderland override


An article regarding cuts the Sunderland Elementary School is facing appeared in The Recorder today. I can’t seem to find it online, but I will link to it if it gets posted.

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Dare you

I dare you to open this little Amherst door.

Little Door Closed

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Sunderlander’s electricity bill…

The price  Sunderland, Mass. residents pay for electricity dealt by the Western Massachusetts Electric Company was brought up by “JJ.”

Comment about electricity bills by JJ

Comment about electricity bills by "JJ"

“Sunderland Resident then responded with a company called Dominion that apparently bargains.

Sunderland Resident found a different price

"Sunderland Resident" found a different electricity provider and price


Dominion states it’s rates are ten percent lower than current rates in the region.

It seems WMECO has a bit of a monopoly.

A Boston Globe article, “Electricity sellers want you to switch: Dominion and MXEnergy offer discounts, but most consumers are in the dark,” explains the price difference.

WMECO prices are established through bidding – a common practice.

WMECOs FAQs courtesy of

WMECO's FAQs courtesy of

This is why one’s rate might not actually be $8.53.

A 2007 article in The Republican summarized how the Mass. Attorney General was inquiring about WMECO’s earnings. In the 2008 analysis by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, “In fact, a rate case may lead to increased rates and a shift of costs between certain classes of ratepayers in WMECo’s service territory, which may mean that certain ratepayers are paying more.” It a said such a case based on rates would be “unlikely to dramatically lower rates.” 

The epilogue of the analysis states:

After the completion of this report, on May 19, 2008, WMECo fi led with the Department for

approval of its most recent default service solicitation in which residential customers will see a 6.5-

8.1% increase in their total bills. Large commercial and industrial customers on default service

will see 26-30% increase in their total bill. However, approximately 83% of large commercial and

industrial customers in WMECo’s service territory use a competitive supplier and are not impacted

by this increase. Review of default service fi lings by the Attorney General and the Department is

limited, focusing primarily on compliance with procurement practices.


While the focus of this report is on increases associated with “delivery charges” in 2007, the most

signifi cant driver of overall increases in electricity rates over the past fi ve years for WMECo’s, and

all other customers in Massachusetts, is in the energy generation portion of the bill. Typically,

these changes occur every three months for commercial and industrial customers on default service

and every six months for default service residential customers. For those customers that rely on

the company for its energy supply or default service (most residential and small commercial and

industrial customers), notice of such increases are just as important, if not more, than effective

communication regarding delivery charge increases because of their magnitude and frequency.


In connection with its May 19, 2008 fi ling, the Company has informed the Attorney General’s

Offi ce that it intends to notify its customers of this increase through public outreach including

a press release as well as individual customer service calls to the large commercial and industrial

customers subject to the rate increase. Such efforts to notify customers of signifi cant rate increases

should be considered a best practice by all the Commonwealth’s distribution companies.


According to the Amherst Bulletin and MassLive WMECO customers should be seeing a decrease in their electricity bills.


That’s it for me; all I have time for today. Hope that helped at least a little.


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Sunderland override defeated

Sunderland’s July 18, 2009 override vote was defeated.

Question 1
No: 636
Yes: 519

Question 2
No: 622
Yes: 530

Vote No Trailer

How will the defeated override change Sunderland, Massachusetts?(polls)

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