Curtis Slayton on Seabrook Warrant Article 12

Seabrook Wastewater Superintendent Curtis Slayton discusses 2021 Warrant Article 12, a retrofit of the twenty year old Seabrook Wastewater Plant. This retrofit addresses some of the aging equipment and in so doing would reduce operational costs at the plant, and provide some direct return on investment.

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A Look at “The Man Who Ran Washington” by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser

The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker IIIThe Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III by Peter Baker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book grabbed my attention when it came out, as I always had a grudging respect for Baker, but did not know much about him, or the details on how he came to hold such power over so many years in Washington. Peter Baker and Susan Glasser have come up with an outstanding biography of Baker that gives us a real clear view of his life, and a career that is truly remarkable.

James Baker was a close friend of George H.W. Bush, both Texas men that became friends as Bush was beginning his political career. The Bush career was not without some pretty serious detours on his way to the Presidency but he always managed to have influence in the national GOP, and that influence helped James Baker become the undersecretary in the Commerce Department in the Ford Administration. He never looked back, quickly, and on his own, becoming a key cog for President Ford in the 1976 battle for the Republican nomination against Ronald Reagan. Baker, in that fight, became Ford’s chief delegate hunter as both campaigns fought for every delegate in their tough battle for the GOP nomination. As the real career of James Baker got started the book gives us a look at some of the big names in the GOP, including Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Elliot Richardson, and Rogers Morton. After Ford’s narrow win over Reagan for the GOP nomination Baker was tapped to lead the Ford campaign into the general election, one of five times he was to lead a Republican campaign for President. Although Ford lost that race to Jimmy Carter he closed a pretty big Carter lead to make it a very close race.

One thing that I did not realize was that Baker had actually run for office himself. After the Ford campaign Baker, one of many in the South who joined the GOP from the Democratic Party, ran for Attorney General of Texas. Baker saw an opportunity to run against a liberal Democrat, but that “liberal” did not win the nomination, leaving Baker in a race against Mark White, a more conservative Democrat. Baker was crushed in that race. (White went on to become Governor.) Baker was described in the book as a pretty poor retail politician:

“’He was the worst retail politician I have ever seen,’ Jim Barlow, who covered the campaign for the Houston Chronicle, reflected years later. ‘It’s not that he was a snob. He didn’t feel right in forcing himself on people.’”
“The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James Baker III Peter Baker & Susan Glasser p 102.”

Baker would, from that point forward, be the man in the background. As much as he hated to be known as a “fixer” his political skills would be used to help elect Republican Presidents and then to help to run Republican Administrations. Baker may not have been a great “retail politician” as a candidate, but he was most astute when developing winning strategies for other candidates. As George H.W. Bush prepared to enter the 1980 Presidential race he turned to James Baker for advice, and to run the campaign. Once again Baker would be running a campaign attempting to stop Ronald Reagan from getting the GOP nomination. As Bush started that race Reagan was a heavy favorite, and justifiably so, having nearly knocked off an incumbent President in 1976. Baker, in his initial presentation to Bush, highlighted what he felt was important in that race:

“Key to winning is: Start early, & develop an organization better than any of the opponents. McGovern did it. Nixon did it. Carter did it. Primary elections are won by organization! Almost regardless of candidate. He underlined organization.”

“The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James Baker III Peter Baker & Susan Glasser p 105”

Bush actually defeated Reagan in the very first test of strength, winning the Iowa caucuses by a narrow margin over the Gipper, putting himself into a high-profile position. Bush and Baker would lose that nomination fight to Reagan, but Bush managed to become the choice for Vice-President. When Reagan assimilated some of the Bush operation for the general election Baker managed to shine, heading up the Reagan debate team, charged with preparing the candidate and negotiating debate details with the opposing campaigns. As Reagan moved towards victory some in his camp, which had the usual internal rivalries, moved to get Reagan to make Baker the Presidential Chief of Staff. The book covers Baker’s ascent to that position, and his out-maneuvering of Ed Meese, who was Governor Reagan’s Chief of Staff in California. The “troika” solution to running the White House after the Reagan victory made Meese happy, and solved a political problem for Reagan, but left real power in the hands of the Reagan “outsider” James Baker. It also created a bit of strain with the Bush family, which had some believe that Baker was an opportunist. Barbara Bush is listed as one of those not entirely happy with Baker.

The book covers some truly fascinating times in the Reagan Presidency, including a fairly well burnt-out Chief of Staff Baker engineering a “trade” of jobs with then Treasury Secretary Don Regan. Baker, sensing it was time to move on, most certainly got the better of that deal, with Don Regan turning out to be a disaster as Chief of Staff, and Baker managing to steer clear of some of the major political mistakes of the second Reagan term. Before that trade we get some great reminders of the problems with Al Haig as Secretary of State, great coverage of the assassination attempt on President Reagan, where Haig’s pronouncement that “I am in control here in the White House” was the beginning of the political end for him.

Baker, as Treasury Secretary, is covered quite well. On a personal basis it was Baker’s strong preference to be doing a Cabinet level job of substance, as opposed to the political work that he had made his mark with. His stewardship of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 is given a good look, and it is quite clear that he had a very successful tenure at Treasury.

Despite Baker’s preference, when called upon by Vice President Bush to take over the Bush campaign for President, he resigned as Treasury Secretary and assumed control of the Bush campaign. We get to see some notable names from the GOP of that era, including the late Lee Atwater, who was involved with that campaign before Baker. The Bush campaign against Michael Dukakis was a tough and nasty campaign, and the book covers the Willie Horton slash and burn tactics, which over the years have been largely attributed to Atwater. Baker gives his views on that through interviews, and he tried to offload responsibility to some degree, but the campaign showed that Baker, as well as Atwater, was willing to deploy some pretty nasty tactics to achieve victory.

Baker, in the new Bush Administration, was named Secretary of State, and his tenure there had some of the most impactful events in U.S. history, as the Soviet Union was disbanded, the Berlin wall fell, and Germany was reunited. That was a great part of the book, and that period alone has filled up many other books. We see Mikhail Gorbachev and follow Baker as he globetrots, managing the Soviet-German issue, explosive events in the Middle East, including the Bush effort to dislodge Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and a host of other issues critical to the United States. Baker was a substantial Secretary of State, with a host of big achievements during his tenure.

As George H W Bush geared up for re-election he once again called on Baker to take control of the campaign, and return to the White House as Chief of Staff. Baker was deeply reluctant, and tried to evade the Presidential request, but eventually he could not say no to his friend and President. He left the job he really loved, as Secretary of State, to go back to the political arena, where some felt that his heart was not in it. Baker is the only man to hold down the Chief of Staff position twice, but his magic could not rescue his friend from defeat at the hands of Bill Clinton. The Bush family was not exactly enthralled with Baker’s performance in the final race for Bush 41, but the friendship between the two never faded.

The loss of George H.W. Bush ended Baker’s run in Washington, but he still had a major role to play in national politics, heading up the Florida recount operation for George W. Bush, having been recruited by his old friend George H.W. Bush. Baker simply overmatched the Gore campaign’s head man Warren Christopher. Baker was simply too tough of an operative for Christopher to handle, and W. came away with the win. Despite Baker’s aversion to being seen as a political person he was a pretty impressive operator in that environment.

The book gives us some insight into Baker’s view of Donald Trump. I think it is important only in that Baker’s discomfort in talking about Trump is reflective of the move away from his type of politics. Baker was not a rigid ideologue, and he was always looking to get things done, even if it meant cutting some deals with the opposition. He was criticized by some of the Reagan “true believers” as insufficiently conservative but he believed in a political process where getting most of what you want out of a deal may make it worthwhile. That philosophy is just not in vogue these days. As a manager Baker, according to David Gergen, placed problems into three categories:
“Easy, hard but doable, and impossible. The first category he left to others, the last he wrote off, and the middle is where he focused his energies.”

“The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James Baker III Peter Baker & Susan Glasser Prologue xviii.”

I was so impressed with this book that I intend to take up a few others by Peter Baker and highly recommend this one.

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A Look at Bob Woodward’s “Rage”

RageRage by Bob Woodward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another book on Trump? Seeing that it was Woodward I could not help myself, and I bought my copy, like I do with all Woodward books, including his prior Trump effort “Fear: Trump in the White House.” This book, in my view, had the larger impact, coming prior to the election, and getting much media coverage.

Woodward always is sourced impeccably, with folks tripping over themselves to talk to him, both on and off the record. For the “Fear” book Woodward failed to get Trump to sit for an interview, which Trump seemed to regret. (There is a recording of a phone call between Trump and Woodward in which Trump pretended not to have received Woodward’s many interview requests for “Fear” when the book was getting ready to be released.) In this effort Trump was interviewed by Woodward many times, on the record, and on tape. He probably would have been better off not talking. The book got a lot of coverage for the Trump admission to Woodward that he had deliberately downplayed to the American public the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus. The press had a field day with that, comparing Trump’s public statements with what he represented to Woodward.

The book has many pieces that have been covered extensively by the press, including some interesting detail on Rod Rosenstein and the designating of a special counsel, a little inside baseball on the departure of General Jim Mattis, a look at the bureaucratic war between Jared Kushner and Chief of Staff John Kelly, and some of Kushner’s observations (excuses?) for the Trump style of governance. I found the book to be very good but I took special note of the Kushner parts.

So what did Kushner say that was so interesting? On Trump’s willingness to break commitments he made to Congressional leadership, and others, Kushner blamed others.

“In 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had a simple question: How do we get the President not to change his mind again? Guys, Kushner said to the Republican leaders, shifting blame from Trump, ‘it’s not that he changes his mind. It’s because he wasn’t staffed correctly. People weren’t giving him all the facts and so he found out different facts. So you can’t try to trick him into making a decision and then expect that he’ll hold to that position.’”……… “Where others saw fickleness or even lies, Kushner saw Trump’s constant shifting inconsistency as a challenge to be met with an ever-adapting form of managing up. Incomplete information, inadequate staffing-the appearance of impulsive decision making was all someone else’s fault, according to Kushner. John Kelly had a less flattering assessment. ‘Crazytown’ Kelly said.”
Rage, Woodward, Bob page 146

Left unsaid, by Kushner, was the fact that every President gets conflicting points of view. Setting up management systems to direct the flow of information into an orderly decision-making process is part of being President. John Kelly tried to create that orderly process but was cashiered when Trump determined that such orderly systems were not for him.

Woodward had some interesting, but well covered elsewhere, tidbits on the Mueller investigation. Dan Coats, former Republican Senator and Trump DNI, gave some very interesting information to Woodward, including the story of his replacement by tweet.

During the course of his interviews with Woodward Trump deployed the tactics familiar to all who might have watched his dealings with the press. Woodward was frustrated by Trump’s question bending answer style, but managed to get out of him some observations that made this a better book because of the interviews. Trump’s observations on his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un were, in my view, some of the more interesting parts of the book. (Woodward managed to get out of Trump a look at the letters exchanged between the two.)

In going back to Kushner and the observations he made to Woodward I found them to be the most interesting part of the book, and I believe, whether intended or not, the most illuminating on the Trump method of operation. Kushner cited four references that, in his view, are central to “understanding” Trump. The first is a Peggy Noonan column from the Wall Street Journal “Over Trump We Are as Divided as Ever” from March of 2018. Woodward is a bit incredulous, as the Noonan column is highly dubious of the potential for long term success for Trump. Why? From the Noonan column cited by Kushner.

“One thinks: He’s crazy . . . and it’s kind of working. But everything we know tells us crazy doesn’t last.”

“You look at his White House and see what appears to be epic instability, mismanagement and confusion. You see his resentments and unpredictability. You used to think he’s surrounded by solid sophisticates, but they’re leaving. He’s unserious— Vladimir Putin says his missiles can get around any U.S. defense, and Mr. Trump is tweeting about Alec Baldwin. He careens around—he has big congressional meetings that are like talk shows where he’s the host, and he says things that are both soft and tough and you think Hmmm, maybe that’s a way through, but the next day it turns out it was only talk. This has been done on the Dreamers, on guns and we’ll see about tariffs. He loves chaos—he brags about this—but it isn’t strategic chaos in pursuit of ends, it’s purposeless disorder for the fun of it. We are not talking about being colorfully, craftily unpredictable, as political masters like FDR and Reagan sometimes were, but something more unfortunate, an unhinged or not-fully-hinged quality that feels like screwball tragedy.”

Kushner also cited, again to Woodward’s astonishment, the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. This observation is astute, as Kushner says:

“He paraphrased the cat: ‘If you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there.’ The Cheshire Cat’s strategy was one of endurance and persistence, not direction.”
Rage, Woodward, Bob page 258

That is, in my view, exactly right, and explains Trump’s constant changes, pulling the rug out from agreements that might have seemed solid, and all the chaos cited by Noonan. The road traveled may change daily, exclusively through whim, and the daily political judgement of Trump. Today’s judgement may be different than yesterdays pronouncement, and if so no big deal.

The third citation issued by Kushner was the book “The Gatekeepers” by Chris Whipple. (great book) in which Trump’s refusal to be managed by Chiefs of Staffs Reince Priebus and John Kelly lead to the Whipple observation that “what seems clear, as of this writing, and almost a year into his Presidency, is that Trump will be Trump, no matter his Chief of Staff.” Whipple’s entire point of view in the book was that without a strong Chief of Staff a Presidency would likely flounder.

The fourth citation by Kushner was the book “Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter” by Scott Adams.

“Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, explains in Win Bigly that Trump’s misstatements of fact are not regrettable errors or ethical lapses, but part of a technique called ‘intentional wrongness persuasion.’ Adams argues Trump ‘can create any reality’ for most voters on most issues and ‘all you will remember is that he provided his reasons, he didn’t apologize, and his opponents called him a liar like they always do.’”
Rage, Woodward, Bob page 258

Kushner cites this book in looking at a specific Trump lie told on the economy in a State of the Union address. Kushner’s view?

“Controversy elevates message.”

Rage, Woodward, Bob page 259

Kushner’s view is that the fighting and accusations about the lies and misrepresentations get people to focus their attention where Trump wants it. I imagine Kushner may now be rethinking his theory of the case on the “controversy elevates message” idea.

Finally I would cite the conversations with Lindsey Graham as critical to understanding the Trump reaction to the pandemic. Graham told Woodward (on the Trump response to the virus):

“’He’s got one foot in and one foot out’, Graham said, describing the call afterwards, ‘He wants to be a wartime president but he doesn’t want to own any more than he has to own.’”

Rage, Woodward, Bob page 309

Ultimately that judgement by Graham, in my view, was adopted by the American public and was one of the major factors leading to Trump’s ultimate defeat.

I think Woodward, despite a subject matter that has been covered extensively, brought new material forward that makes this book an important, and good, read. For those that might be wondering whether Woodward will go for a third Trump book he has begun work, with Robert Costa, on that effort. I wonder if Trump will agree to be interviewed?

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The Peggy Noonan column cited by Jared Kushner.

A link to the excellent Chris Whipple book “The Gatekeepers”

“Win Bigly” by Scott Adams

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The Seabrook 2021 Warrant

The Seabrook 2021 Warrant is established, after some changes made at the Deliberative Session and is posted below.

2021 Corrected Warrant Articles

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Review of “Saving Freedom:Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for Western Civilization”

Saving Freedom: Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for the Future of EuropeSaving Freedom: Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for the Future of Europe by Joe Scarborough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joe Scarborough has put out a pretty good book on Harry Truman and the immediate challenges Truman faced in the post war period. Scarborough’s book is a quick read that focuses on the Truman Administration and the aid program for Greece and Turkey, and the formulation of the Truman Doctrine that brought that aid.

As we look at the Greek and Turkish aid today the question may be what is the big deal about foreign assistance? Scarborough reviews the formulation of the Truman Doctrine, and the President’s decision to contest Soviet encroachment into countries vulnerable to falling into the Soviet orbit. After the end of the war the U.S. had demobilized the military, and some of our domestic politics reverted to a pre-war isolationist mindset. Truman also faced new Republican majority in both houses, with the GOP committed to fiscal restraint as well as a foreign policy that was deeply suspicious of foreign entanglements. With those changed political circumstances the Truman Administration received word from the British government that its military and financial commitment to Greece was coming to an end. Greece, after a long German occupation that devastated the country, was in dire straights. A communist insurgency that was able to melt across porous borders along with a less than ideal Greek government made Greece a country that could fall into the Soviet orbit. With the British essentially bankrupt and receding as a global power the question at hand was whether America would step up and fill that vacuum and become the global counterweight to Soviet Russia.

Scarborough examines the Administration response to the British withdrawal in an easy-to-read book with a viewpoint. There are other books that will provide a more detailed look at how the post-war world order was established but Scarborough manages to hit some key points and advance his foreign policy views at the same time. Scarborough believes that Truman made the right call in being willing to expend American resources to stop the expansion of Soviet power.
“In a speech at West Point years later, Acheson would famously observe that Britain had lost an empire and not yet found a role; he might have mentioned that he had been a witness to that demise. Just as Churchill stood alone against Hitler’s war machine in 1940, it would now be Harry Truman’s government standing alone against Stalin’s designs on Western Europe seven years later.” Saving Freedom: Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for Western Civilization. Page 5.

Dean Acheson, as he should, has a key role to play in the book. Scarborough is an admirer, and credits Acheson, as well as General George Marshall, with much of the success of the President’s program. But with President Truman recommending an aid package of $400 million for Greece and Turkey the new Republican majorities in both House and Senate would have their say. Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Republican of Michigan and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee was the key player on the GOP side. Senator Vandenberg had a history of skepticism on American foreign involvements but ended up being a supporter of this aid package. Scarborough gives us a good view of the legislative hurdles Truman faced, and how his team, with the vital help of Vandenberg, managed to get this package pushed through Congress, and start the process of creating a new, more robust American presence on the world stage. Truman, in a speech, outlined the philosophy underpinning the Truman Doctrine.

“We must take a positive stand. It is no longer enough merely to say ‘we don’t want war.’ We must act in time -ahead of time-to stamp out the smoldering beginnings of any conflict that may threaten to spread over the world. We know how the fire starts. We have seen it before-aggression by the strong against the weak, openly by the use of armed force and secretly by infiltration. We know how the fire spreads. And we know how it ends.
Let us not underestimate the task before us. The burden of our responsibility today is greater, even considering the size and resources of our expanded nation, than it was in the time of Jefferson and Monroe. For the peril to man’s freedom that existed then exists now on a much smaller earth-an earth whose broad oceans have shrunk and whose natural protections have been taken away by new weapons of destruction…
We are a people who not only cherish freedom and defend it, if need be with our lives, but who also recognize the right of other men and other nations to share it.” Saving Freedom: Truman, the Cold War, and the Fight for Western Civilization. Page 140

Scarborough diverts a bit to the Truman decision to recognize the State of Israel, a decision taken against the advice of some of his most influential advisors, principally George Marshall, but it is the creation of the Truman Doctrine, and specifically the aid request for Greece and Turkey, that is the focus of the book. Scarborough candidly acknowledges the errors made by U.S. policy makers in the years to come, principally in Vietnam and Iraq, but still stands in support of the world order that was created after World War II.

This book is not detailed history, but it is good history, with an obvious yearning for a bi-partisan approach to foreign policy that is supportive of strong American leadership in the world. Scarborough is a clear opponent of the Trump go it alone approach and is obviously disturbed by American retrenchment in the world. The American role in NATO, in Afghanistan, with China, and our interactions with our traditional allies all have come under scrutiny during the Trump years. How the U.S. moves forward under a new Administration is yet to be determined. This book tells us how we got started in the post war era, and the great courage and success of Harry Truman in standing up to Soviet expansionist designs across the Globe.

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Seabrook’s 2021 CIP

The Seabrook CIP for the FY beginning in 2021 is below. This plan has been approved by the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board, and is the basis for the warrant articles submitted to the voters. The eight year review of capital spending in Seabrook is also attached below.

2021 CIP

Seabrook CIP Spending Eight Year Review 2020

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My 2020 Electoral Map

I have attached my electoral map prediction(s) for tomorrow, election day. No halfway measures on these predictions. My map will not have any shades, just red or blue. The time for predictions with shading is over.
A few comments:
I am torn on several states that are very close, including PA, AZ, FLA, NC, and Georgia. Of those 5 I have given 4 to Trump. (Gritting my teeth on PA, a very tight state that Biden has a great chance to win.) I look at Arizona and I am gritting my teeth there as well, as I believe that Biden has a solid chance to win that state as well. I hear all the chatter on Texas, but the history there just does not allow me to change that to the Democratic column, although that day is getting closer.

I have picked Biden to win Georgia, which also cuts against history, but I believe that in this cycle, with these candidates, Biden can get a close win there. I have left the Maine Second Congressional District with Trump, worth 1 electoral vote, but I have switched Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, worth 1 electoral vote, to Biden. If Biden wins either PA or FLA then I think it is safe to say the door is closed to a Trump win. Both the Maine and Nebraska Second Congressional single votes could become vitally important under some conditions
My map would give the win to Trump if he flips Georgia to red, but if he wins Georgia and Biden wins PA then Biden will win the presidency.

The swing states have tightened, and it looks to me like Trump must run the table in order to win re-election. He ran the table in 2016, so a Trump win is still possible.

My last comment is that on the national popular vote I expect Biden to win that by a significantly higher amount than Hillary Clinton did in 2016.

Biden wins with between 275 and 295 electoral votes.


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com
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A Review of Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupBad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup is a must read that details the meteoric rise and crash and burn descent of a company called Theranos, and its principal, Elizabeth Holmes. The book was written by Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou, who wrote a series of stories in the Journal that exposed the fraud, and brought Holmes and Theranos down. He gives us an up-close look at how Theranos skyrocketed to a market value of $10 billion through deception, but the story is so much more than your run of the mill business fraud case .

Theranos was a medical device company that promised an amazing array of medical diagnosis from a small sample of blood, using a Theranos machine. Elizabeth Holmes had modeled herself after Steve Jobs, to the point that she was wearing his style of clothing. Holmes got out there and sold the potential technology to anyone that would listen, drawing large capital infusions and attracting A-List people to her Board of Directors. The Board included Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, William Perry, Sam Nunn, and even General James Mattis. The problem was that the technology did not work, and Holmes knew it did not work. Despite that knowledge her and her CEO struck a major deal to deploy the technology in Walgreen stores. They would actually take the blood samples and analyze them with commercial blood analyzers made by other companies. She used that technique with investors, and in handling the volume of analysis required by the Walgreens contract.

How was she able to continue the fraud in the manner that she did? That is a fascinating question, and the answer does not reflect well on American business practices, or on the “elite” reaction to allegations of fraud. The people working for Theranos, especially the technical folks, understood that there were major issues with the technology. When they spoke up they were run out of the company. One of the employees was the grandson of George Schultz, who reported the suspicions he had about the technology to his grandfather. Instead of a receptive audience Tyler Schultz was given the cold shoulder by his grandfather, who accepted the word of Elizabeth Holmes that his grandson was in error, and just a disgruntled employee. This type of thing happened frequently before the sham was exposed, with Holmes exerting her influence, and deploying a strong personality to beat back the “doubters.” She also wielded super-lawyer David Boies, who represented the company, to launch legal assaults on those “doubters” that questioned the technology. The author himself was subjected to a pretty strong legal assault by Boies, causing the brass at the WSJ to want to proceed with caution. Boies is not a man to trifle with, and Holmes used him expertly to cast doubt on the doubters.

This effort manages to mix all of that into a great book that weaves the story together. It is almost unbelievable that it went on so long and ensnared so many people. In his review Bill Gates, who highly recommended the book, called some of the details shared by the author “insane.” In the end it all would have come crashing down at some point but Carreyrou, and those that helped him, deserve a lot of credit for digging into the story, fighting off the real heat that came down, and finally exposing the massive fraud that Theranos became. Elizabeth Holmes is a fascinating story. Without question she had a brilliance to her, and her ability to sell was truly extraordinary. But these talents ended up being used in a way that brought her, in the end, to a massive personal and professional disaster. She is now a defendant, charged with multiple crimes that could bring serious jail time. This book brings us that incredible story, and comes highly recommended.

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A look at the pre-discovery publicity that Elizabeth Holmes received from just about every corner of the media world.

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A review of “The Splendid and the Vile”

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the BlitzThe Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an outstanding book Erik Larson has delivered. Could another WWII book bring anything new or interesting? Larson does both with this look at the first year of Churchill’s premiership, showing us in great detail how close to victory Hitler had come, and how the steely resolve of Churchill held things together in the face of unrelenting bad news, and a fierce German bombing campaign against Britain. Larson gives us a look at not just the military, but some of the personal, with some of the Churchill family “issues” covered fairly.

There is no question that Churchill is still revered today, but I do believe that how close Britain was to defeat, as the country stood alone against what appeared to be an unbeatable German military colossus, tends to be forgotten as the years go by. We get to see the devastation of the German air blitz on Britain and London, and how Churchill both coped with, and offered inspiration, in the face of continuing bad news. As Britain stood alone against the onslaught it appeared very likely that the Germans would attempt an invasion, and that potential added to the immense burden on Churchill.

The book gives us a look at Goebbels (the Vile), through his diary, showing him to be both perplexed and outraged by Churchill’s refusal to enter into peace talks with Germany. The Germans, including Hitler, never could settle on a way to deal with the British beyond the bombing campaign. Larson looks at the role of Hermann Goering, the Luftwaffe chief. Goring’s fundamental incompetence, and his reliance on cranks, especially in the intelligence field, was a key factor in the eventual British victory. Much of the German side material has been covered elsewhere, but it is fascinating in the context given by Larson.

Of course Churchill, for all his greatness, could not have won the war alone. We get to look at key members of the Churchill team, including Lord Beaverbrook, a fascinating figure. Churchill recognized that aircraft production would be something that would be critical to keeping Britain in the war, and he designated Beaverbrook as his head of Aircraft Production, a portfolio Churchill created. Beaverbrook was not a “team player” in a bureaucratic sense, but he drove his mission with zeal, ensuring that the British could replace the losses incurred in the Battle of Britain, and stay in the fight. Beaverbrook was a prima donna, but Churchill tolerated the constant threats of resignation, and squeezed the most out of a talented yet eccentric personality. It is, in my view, one of the key elements of Churchill’s greatness. He not only inspired his citizens, but he motivated his team in ways that drove the British forward when the chance of victory seemed non-existent.

Of course we see how much importance Churchill placed on the United States, and how he worked the Roosevelt angle as hard as he could. The U.S. was not quite ready to join the fight, but Churchill was relentless in his pursuit of Roosevelt, recognizing immediately that victory would likely be impossible without the entry of the military and industrial strength of America. Although he did not always meet success in his early endeavors with FDR Churchill had the political foresight to see how the war would play out, and acted accordingly.

The strength in the face of overwhelming odds, the description of the carnage brought on by the German air attacks and the Churchill response, and a close look at Churchill’s family and political circle make this book, for me, an outstanding effort, and well worth a read.

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Seabrook Capital Spending 8 Year Review

With preparations ongoing for the production of the new Seabrook Capital Plan I have prepared the 8 year review of Seabrook capital spending, which is attached below, with the corresponding tabs. This review shows us where our capital spending has gone, both by department, and by function. Seabrook capital spending has been financed with capital bonds, fund balance, and on a pay/go system through the budget. Importantly both the Budget Committee and the Board of Selectmen have approved the creation of capital reserve accounts, which will help to smooth our capital budgets annually.

Seabrook CIP Spending Eight Year Review 2020

Tabs 2020

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