Seabrook CIP Draft 2023-2028

The Seabrook Draft CIP has been released. We have utilized a new format for this draft which will better meet the needs of the Selectmen, Budget Committee, and Planning Board as a key aid in compiling annual capital budget requests through the warrant. This document, in draft form, has been presented to the Board of Selectmen, who have begun their review.

In order to facilitate that review I have prepared “mini-CIP” documents reviewing departmental requests, with a focus on the FY 2023 capital budget by department. The reviewed department documents are also included here.

One of the improvements made to this process is to identify how these capital requests will be paid for, and whether such financing is on a “pay-go” basis or utilizes other financing methodology.

There may be some changes to this document before it is finalized.

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A Look at Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson

Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The first book by Hunter S. Thompson but one that I had not read until very recently. Released in 1969 the book comes to mind with the death over the past few days of Ralph “Sonny” Barger, the driving force behind the Angels, starting as the head of the Oakland branch of the organization, and a prominent part of this book.

The book gives us a glimpse of the unique writing style that would so identify Thompson in the future. Thompson’s observations, and his style of presenting those observations, was always fascinating to me. We can see that talent here.

In advance of reading the book I looked over some of the criticism of the work and the subject matter. Was Thompson glorifying the outlaw group, and all of the criminal activity involved with the Hell’s Angels? I did not take it that way. Thompson hung with, and rode with the Hell’s Angels, (although he did not ride a Harley) He gives a relatively unvarnished view, with the Thompson touch, of the outlaws. Thompson did not go into the effort looking to write a condemnation, but rather to observe and understand the juxtaposition of the Angels with American society. Whether you agree with him or not that contrast is one of the writing strengths of Thompson, with ridicule of hypocrisy to play a prominent role in future writing.

Thompson describes the Angels as he sees them.

“Now, looking for labels, it is hard to call the Hell’s Angels anything but mutants. …They are the sons of poor men and drifters, losers and the sons of losers. …The Angels don’t like being called losers, but they have learned to live with it. ‘Yeah, I guess I am,’ said one. ‘But you’re looking at one loser who’s going to make a hell of a scene on the way out.’”
Thompson, Hunter; Hell’s Angels. A Strange and Terrible Saga P252-254

Hunter Thompson manages to deflate some “legendary” stories about the Angels, and in so doing examine some of the American fascination with outlaws, and the Hell’s Angels in particular. We get a look at the intersection of the Angels with the beat/hippie contingent, brought together with Ken Kesey, Allan Ginsburg, and the Merry Pranksters. It was not a natural pairing, and though it seemed to flourish for a bit it would end badly, with the Angels coming down in support of the Vietnam War, and actually attacking anti-war demonstrations. (The culmination of this disastrous attempt to bring both sides together would occur at Altamont)

Thompson was famously “stomped” by a contingent of Angels at the conclusion of the book, so he experienced firsthand some of the nastier elements of the Angels lifestyle.

The death of Barger, more than fifty years after the publication of this book, and his own touch of fame, as an author, an “actor,” and an outlaw celebrity, is in part due to the notoriety he derived from this work. If you have not read it and you are a fan of Hunter S. Thompson it is still worth a read.


The NPR Obit of Sonny Barger.



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Methuen Dems Breakfast 2022

The Methuen Democratic Committee held the annual breakfast yesterday, June 11, 2022 at the First Church Parish Hall. Thank you to Committee Chair Lisa Ferry for all of her hard work on the event. Great job as emcee by City Council Chair D.J. Beauregard. It was really great to see people able to gather and hear candidates talk about the important issues facing Massachusetts and the Merrimack Valley.

The Committee did a straw poll for many of the contested races, and those results are below. The Committee honored retiring Representative Linda Dean Campbell as the Democrat of the Year. It was a well deserved honor.

Straw Poll:

Governor
Maura Healey 90%
Sonia Chang-Diaz 10%

Lt. Governor
Kim Driscoll 78%
Tami Gouveia 13%
Eric Lesser 9%

Attorney General
Andrea Campbell 61%
Quentin Palfrey 30%
Shannon Liss-Riordan 9%

Secretary of State
William Galvin 53%
Tanisha Sullivan 47%

Auditor
Diana DiZoglio 90%
Chris Dempsey 10%

State Senator (First Essex District)
Eunice Ziegler 59%
Pavel Payano 41%

State Representative (Fourth Essex District)
James McCarty 57%
Estela Reyes 43%
William Lantigua 0%

State Representative (Sixteenth Essex District)
Marcos Devers 73%
Francisco Paulino 27%

Essex County District Attorney

Paul Tucker 85%
James O’Shea 15%

Sheriff Essex County
Kevin Coppinger 81%
Virginia Leigh 19

With Governor’s Councilor Eileen Duff and Lt. Gov. Candidate Mayor Kim Driscoll


With Democrat of the Year Linda Dean Campbell
Lt. Governor Candidate Mayor Kim Driscoll
State Rep. Candidate Ryan Hamilton
Lt Governor Candidate Senator Eric Lesser
Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger
State Rep. Candidate James McCarty
State Rep. Candidate Estela Reyes
State Senate Candidate Eunice Ziegler
State Senate Candidate Pavel Payano
State Rep. Candidate Marcos Devers
State Rep. Candidate Francisco Paulino
Governor’s Councilor Eileen Duff
Secretary of State Candidate Tanisha Sullivan
Attorney General Candidate Quentin Palfrey
District Attorney Candidate Paul Tucker
District Attorney Candidate James O’Shea
Auditor Candidate Senator Diana DiZoglio
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The Seabrook Water and Sewer Reports 2021

The Seabrook Water report, and the separate Sewer report, are posted below. These reports will be discussed by the Board of Selectmen at the May 16, 2022 meeting.

Despite great progress there is still a taxpayer subsidy going to these funds, especially in Sewer.

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The Seabrook Finance Report 2021

Each year I present a finance report to the Board of Selectmen that covers Town financial data from 2014 on. In this case the covered period is 2014-2021. We examine the trends that the finance data show, and what challenges those trends bring to policy makers. The continuing shift away from the commercial/industrial sector as a percentage of the overall tax levy is shown through the NextEra (Seabrook Station) numbers over the measured period. NextEra as a percentage of the overall tax levy has gone from 42% to 28%. (The NextEra Shift) In 2021 the residential sector exceeded 50% of the total levy for the first time in the measured period.

With the application of fund balance the total tax levy in 2021 rose by under 4%. Despite that number the shifting of the overall burden to residential created, and will continue to create, a rising tax burden for the Seabrook residential sector.

I have included an executive summary that is attached below that brings some additional key data into the discussion for policy makers. We will be discussing the report at the Board meeting of May 16, 2022. I will post the 2021 Water and Sewer reports separately. They will be a key part of the ongoing discussions.

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A Look at “The Founders: The Story of Paypal…

The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley by Jimmy Soni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A pretty impressive book by Jimmy Soni, who manages to give us an up-close look at how PayPal was created, bringing us through the different iterations of the company. Who cares about PayPal? The group that created this company has become known for so much more than their work at PayPal. The list of “The Founders” includes Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, and a cast of coders that were nothing short of brilliant.

This book is not biographical. If you are looking for an in-depth look at any one of the individuals this is not your book. It will show you how a start-up, even with brilliant people at the helm, is often one step away from oblivion.

I was not aware of the history here, which includes the fact that PayPal was a merger of competing companies helmed separately by Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. This meter created PayPal, which eventually has Musk as the CEO.

Musk obviously has garnered a lot of publicity of late, and not everybody is happy about it. But this book shows you some of what he is made of. He had made a small fortune selling another company before his involvement in the PayPal predecessor X.Com. Musk, despite several twists and turns in just what product(s) his company was developing, was willing to stake a big chunk of his newly made fortune into X.Com. He had guts and was willing to gamble it all. But this is not an Elon Musk story. The team that developed from the merger of X.Com and Confinity (and even before) was free-wheeling, a bit reckless, and absolutely brilliant. Confinity initially invested heavily into a product that would allow money to be beamed between Palm Pilots. Maybe a good idea at the time, but as technology evolved so did the PayPal team, striking gold in realizing that there was a market for a payments provider for the auction site eBay, which was just taking off.

Soni does take us through the development of the business and how, even when the company appeared to find success, the chance of failure was ever present. How to combat user fraud, ward off the hostile EBay, who had their own payment platform, scale down customer acquisition costs, which were enormous, and stay one step ahead of regulators was a rough road indeed. The coders did amazing work here, and the entire group put in hours that were simply inhuman. But success depended on that level of commitment and this group was willing to pay the price.

I read a couple of reviews that were a bit critical of the level of detail on the business development in the book. I thought it was just right. With all of the big names involved here as younger men and women a certain legend has grown around the PayPal “Founders.” The group has gone on to some great heights after PayPal, and has been accorded the nickname “The PayPal Mafia.” You can see, through this book, how that group got its start, took a new market by storm, and made a barrel of money. Their success was not pre-ordained but came through hard work, brilliance in driving the company to the right spot in the market, and out-flanking business competitors. I enjoyed the book, and recommend it highly.



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The “paypal mafia” photographed at Tosca in San Francisco, Oct, 2007. Back row from left: Jawed Karim, co-founder Youtube; Jeremy Stoppelman CEO Yelp; Andrew McCormack, managing partner Laiola Restaurant; Premal Shah, Pres of Kiva; 2nd row from left: Luke Nosek, managing partner The Founders Fund; Kenny Howery, managing partner The Founders Fund; David Sacks, CEO Geni and Room 9 Entertainment; Peter Thiel, CEO Clarium Capital and Founders Fund; Keith Rabois, VP BIz Dev at Slide and original Youtube Investor; Reid Hoffman, Founder Linkedin; Max Levchin, CEO Slide; Roelof Botha, partner Sequoia Capital; Russel Simmons, CTO and co-founder of Yelp
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Mayor Kim Driscoll in Methuen

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll visited Methuen Saturday, campaigning for the office of Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. Mayor Driscoll is uniquely qualified for this office, having a distinguished career of public service. She is acknowledged as a top flight manager. Her record as Mayor of Salem is truly inspiring for the depth of accomplishment her tenure has provided. Read more about that record here. Thank you to Borrelli’s in Methuen for allowing us to gather there to discuss the issues and have Mayor Driscoll meet voters!

With Methuen Council Chair DJ Beauregard, candidate for State Rep. Ryan Hamilton, Mayor Driscoll, Mayor Jim Fiorentini of Haverhill, and former Mayor Dennis DiZoglio of Methuen.
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Historic Horse Racing Machines at “The Brook”

It was a pleasure to join the Seabrook Board of Selectmen at the grand opening of the new Historic Horse Racing machines and ballroom at “The Brook” in Seabrook. We were joined by the Vice Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee Patrick Abrami, Senator Tom Sherman, and of course Eureka CEO Andre Carrier and Eureka Chairman Greg Lee. Select Board Chair Aboul Khan expressed his deep appreciation for the investment in Seabrook made by Eureka. CEO Andre Carrier thanked the large crowd for their support. That crowd included many of the charities that have been beneficiaries of the vision of the New Hampshire Legislature and Governor Sununu to bring forward legislation that benefits some truly worthwhile New Hampshire non-profits. The Brook is now the largest charitable gaming casino in the United States. The evening unveiled the new Historic Horse Racing machines, as well as a new ballroom, and continued evolution of the facility due to the continuing investment in this great facility. Thank you to Andre and Greg for their continued commitment to “The Brook.”

Cutting the ribbon at the Brook
Historic Horse Racing Machines at the Brook
Eureka CEO Andre Carrier
Board of Selectmen Chair Aboul Khan
Vice Chair of House Ways and Means Patrick Abrami
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Video History of Methuen

The very old video history of Methuen put together for the celebration of Methuen’s 250th Anniversary. The listed chairs of the effort were James Smith and John Rimas, with assistance from Town Historian Ernest Mack. John Rimas recently passed away, and both he and Jim Smith were principals in the Methuen School system. We lost Jim Smith in 2016, and Mr. Mack in 2012. They did their best to make the 250th Anniversary a memorable one for Methuen.

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Methuen Inaugurals Now and Then

I have been happy to do some posts about Methuen Inaugurals, with posts pairing some highlights from a new Mayor’s ceremony with a history of inaugural ceremonies in Methuen since the charter change creating the Mayor form in Methuen. Unfortunately, with COVID, Mayor Neil Perry was forced to forego a ceremony for his second term swearing in. A belated congratulations to Mayor Perry and the City Council upon the commencement of the new term of office this year.

I continue to find interesting documents in the “archives,” kept by my family. I have attached below the program book for my first mayoral inaugural ceremony in 2006, which of course included the City Council, the School Committee, the Nevins Library, and the Greater Lawrence Technical High School.

The officials that were sworn in that day were willing to offer themselves for service and were a fine group of public servants. We unfortunately have lost some of those officials in the many years that have gone by. We should remember those people always, as all were committed to the City of Methuen and contributed to the City in so many ways. They are:

Arthur Nicholson
Kenneth Henrick
Martha Welch
Joseph Leone III
Robert Andrew
Pat Hennessy
Madeline Varitimos

We had the honor of having Congressman Marty Meehan as part of the program. Marty Meehan is now the President of the University of Massachusetts system.

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