Monthly Archives: December 2016

BOTS Act

Who says Congress can’t get anything done – this both fills someone’s real need, plus has a good acronym.  This is from my Thompson-Reuters newsletter.


Congress Restricts Ticket-Buying “Bots”

December 19, 2016

Money, keyboard and hand on computer mouseThe United States Congress recently passed the “Better Online Ticket Sales Act” (BOTS Act).  The new law, which President Obama is expected to sign, makes it illegal to use automated software (“bots”) to circumvent security systems that are designed to restrict purchases of tickets to public events, such as concerts and athletic events.

Currently, a variety of companies that sell event tickets use bots to make mass ticket purchases immediately after event tickets go on sale to the public.  In some instances, the bots are designed to circumvent computer systems that are intended to limit the number of tickets that can be purchased by a single buyer.

These mass purchases sometimes result in extremely rapid ticket sell-outs, frustrating individual ticket buyers.  Often, the tickets purchased using bots are re-sold to the public.  The re-sale price for the tickets is generally higher than face value.  This process thus generally results in greater costs to consumers.

The BOTS Act makes it illegal to bypass computer security measures in order to make mass purchases of tickets for events with a capacity of more than 200 attendees.  Under the terms of the Act, bypassing the computer security measures is characterized as an “unfair or deceptive act” and is thus within the regulatory jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission.

The goals of the BOTS Act are sensible and useful.  It is uncertain, however, that specific federal legislation was necessary in order to accomplish the objective of limiting computer security circumvention.  It seems that existing federal laws, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, provide adequate authority to support legal action against parties who engage in circumvention of computer systems that are engaged in interstate commerce.

One noteworthy apparent consequence of the BOTS Act is the formal expansion of the FTC’s role in regulation of online transactions and activities.  The BOTS Act characterizes efforts to circumvent computer security systems as illegal commercial trade practices.  This appears to grant to the FTC the lead role in regulating U.S. computer security.

With the implementation of the BOTS Act, it seems that the FTC has joined law enforcement authorities at the leading edge of computer security enforcement in the United States.  That role will likely require significant resources for the FTC.  In order to execute this mission effectively, the FTC must receive substantial additional resources.

ALS cost estimate

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At the Board of Selectmen last night Chef Kingsbury handed out the attached estimate of what it would cost the town to hire eight new paramedics, such that the Medfield Fire Department would be staffed by four full time firefighters on duty, 24/7.  Under this scenario, the Medfield Fire Department staffing would double from eight full time firefighters to sixteen firefighters, with half of the employees being paramedics, and half EMT’s.

Since 2000 we have provided EMT intermediate ambulance services, and we employ eight full time EMT’s to do so.  We are staffed by two EMT’s per shift, 24/7.

I believe that the major treatment difference between EMT and paramedic services is the ability of the latter to administer medication and insert IV’s.  I also understand that paramedics have about 1,640 hours of training beyond EMT’s.

At the meeting, ALS services were estimated to be used on 80% of the current runs, needed on maybe 60%, and currently ALS services are provided by ALS intercepts, if available, as the result of a ten year old agreement with the towns of Westwood, Walpole, and Norfolk.  We split any fees received for runs with ALS intercepts with the other towns on a 50/50 basis.

The data that especially interested me was that the Medfield Fire Department does about 650 ambulance runs per year, or about two per day on average, and that each run takes up to an hour and a half.  That would appear to mean that there is a lot of capacity for which we are staffed, to do more runs.  When figured on a yearly average, if the two runs take about three hours, there is about twenty hours per day of non-run time.  If all the departments in surrounding towns have the same issue, it seems that it cries out for a regional solution by which all departments are using more of that currently underutilized capacity.

There were several comments made about the safety issues of being properly staffed with employees who have the proper training, both for the safety of the firefighters themselves and for the safety of the public.  One call firefighter assured that no apparatus ever leaves the station without being fully and properly staffed.

Alternatives that were also mentioned included:

 

  • converting to a paramedic service slowly over time by requiring any new hire to be a paramedic
  • hiring a company to provide the ALS service on an intercept basis, which was estimated to cost $600,000/year,plus a charge per run, for three towns;
  • starting a regional ALS service shared with other towns that do not currently have ALS (i.e. Millis, Dover, Sherborn, and one other, Holliston maybe), but it was reported that there appears to be no interest in those other towns per the Chief in doing a regional service; and
  • NB, it was stated that there was felt to be little interest among our current EMT’s in their becoming paramedics.

 

Another alternative, that was not discussed, is whether the Medfield Fire Department could just be converted to an all paramedic service by requiring current employees to become paramedics within a set amount of time, say within the next three years.  In the past the Chief has opined that was not possible.

The more I learn about ALS services, the more uncertain of the right solution I become.  What is the proper balance between services and costs?  I still need a lot of education, so I hope the selectmen get a lot more input.  Today in follow up discussions with one of the meeting participants I was provided the Massachusetts EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES PRE-HOSPITAL STATEWIDE TREATMENT PROTOCOLS, all 176 pages of it – so I have some homework to get me started.

*]])RAJF'Ir* ALS Paramedic Budget Proposal (Estimated) Based on hiring 8 Firefighter Paramedics (Step 4) 2184 hrs (42per wk x 52) x $25.62 = $55,954 per $55,954 x 8 = $44 7 ,632 Additional annual personnel costs: Medic Stipend - $6000 x 8 = $48,000 Vacation-96hrs x 8 x $38.50 = $29,568 Sick Time-72hrs x 8 x $38.50 = $22,176 Holidays-11x8 x 10.5 x $26.62 = $23,673 Personal Time - 31.5hrs x 8 x $38.50 = $9702 Clothing - $600 x 8 = $4800 Cleaning - $300 x 8 = $2400 Town share health care - $50,000 Town share Medicare - $6500 Annual Estimated costs - $644,451 One time startup costs: Protective Clothing- 8 x $3200 = $25,600 Uniforms: - 8 x $600 - $4800 Medical Equip - $60,000 Estimated startup costs - $90,400 Year one estimate - $734,851 Annual Medical Control Fee $10,000 - Revolving Acct (pay $5000 now)

BoS calendar to ATM

Mike Sullivan handed out the attached calendar that he put together for our meetings up through the annual town meeting (ATM) at the end of April.  Plus, Mike included a 2017 Board of Selectmen meeting dates calendar suitable for mounting on each bulletin board and/or desk in town.

draft Calendar for Board of Selectmen January 1, 2017 to April 30, 2017 Selectmen's Meeting Dates: January 3rd, 17th, 31st, February 7th, 21"d, March 7th, 21st, April 4th, 18th, 24th. January 3rd- Warrant Articles Due needing Legal Review, Budget Meetings, Housing Authority January 15, 2017 - Annual Reports are due to the Board of Selectmen. This date is a Town By-law voted at Town Meeting May4, 1981 January 17th - Budget Meetings, Preliminary review of Town Meeting Warrant Articles prior to closing of the Warrant, Budget update, Senior Housing Study Committee, Hospital Study Committee January 31st - Budget Meetings, Budget update, meet with Warrant Committee and Planning Board to discuss potential warrant article re recreational marijuana, senior housing, affordable housing, group homes, etc., Master Plan Committee, Capital Plan Committee and Facilities Manager. February 6th - Deadline for filing papers to run for Town Offices February 7th - Closing of the Town Meeting Warrant, Budget Meetings February 21st - School Committee, Budget Meetings, Review of Warrant Articles. March 7th - Sign Town Election Warrant for Posting, Budget Meetings, Review of Warrant Articles, March 21st - Budget Meetings, Review of Warrant Articles March 27th -Town Election April 4th - Reorganization of Board, Budget update, Budget Meetings, Review of Warrant Articles April 18th -Assignment of Budgets and Warrant Articles for Town Meeting, meet with Warrant Committee for update on Town Meeting Warrant & Budget April 24th - Selectmen and Warrant Committee meetings prior to Annual Town Meeting & Annual Town Meeting • I did not schedule meeting with Departments, Boards and Committees that have budgets since they will be before you to review their fy18 budgets and updates & items of interest would be included in those budget discussions. Board of Selectmen Meetings 2017 Januarv Februarv March s M T W T F s s M T w T F s s M T w T F s 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 26 27 28 26 . 28 29 30 31 29 30 31 Q TOWN ELECTIONS April Mav June s M T w T F s s M T w T F s s M T w T F s 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 23 . 25 26 27 28 29 28 29 30 31 25 26 27 28 29 30 30 I ANNUAL TOWN MEETING Ju ~ Auaust Seotember s M T w T F s s M T W T F s s M T w T F s 1 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 27 28 29 30 31 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 30 31 October November December s M T W T F s s M T w T F s s M T w T F s 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 1 2 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 29 30 31 26 27 28 29 30 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 < Board of Selectmen • Annual Town Election & Annual Town Meeting Holiday - Town Offices Closed20161221-calendar-through-april_page_2

Bay Colony Rail Trail report

The Bay Colony Rail Trail presentation at the meeting of the Board of Selectmen last night by Christian Donner was excellent and the report the study committee submitted was even better.  Below is the executive summary.  $20,000 will be donated for the formal study,  the rest of the construction monies will be fund raised, and town will have a rail trial in 2018 – it strikes me as a no brainer for the town.

The picture of the train wreck is from the report, and especially interested me as it shows the water tower which was the structure that sat on the granite blocks in the woods along the RR right of way that I found while jogging, and ultimately got the MBTA to donate to the Town of Medfield, many of which are now installed at the Straw Hat Park.  It was either Bob Kennedy, Sr. or Ed Hinkley (both now retired from the DPW) who recalled that there had once been a water tower at that site, and they were of course correct.

Also, note how West Mill Street is a pretty narrow and sorry looking dirt road, and Dale Street looks not as steep as today.

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Group homes as SHI

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One strategy that I have been exploring for the Town of Medfield is the construction of group homes in town for residents with disabilities, partly because it is the right thing for we as a town to do, and partly because each bed in the group home counts towards our Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI).

At the meeting of the Board of Selectmen last night we received data from the Department of Housing and Community Development indicating that the town currently has 283 SHI, putting us at 6.71% of our housing stock as being affordable SHI.  We need  to be at 10% to be protected from unfriendly 40B projects, so we are about 150 SHI short.

I have already met with Riverside Community Care and The Price Center about their agencies locating group homes in town, and this week I spoke with the director of the Towards Independent Living and Learning, Inc. (TILL) in Dedham which specializes in group homes.

Weeks ago someone suggested to me that I talk to TILL about group homes, and its director returned my call Monday.  I see TILL, like Riverside Community Care, as an opportunity for the town to consider whether it wants to donate some town owned land to make group homes work.  To get group homes built through TILL, there will apparently need to be financial assistance to close the financial model money gap, as existed for Riverside Community Care too.  Land donation by the town could make the financial model work, and town land donation would ultimately need to be a policy decision of the annual town meeting (ATM).  Town land donation could be sponsored to the ATM by the Board of Selectmen and/or the Affordable Housing Committee.

If the town opts to actively pursue group home construction, it would make sense to then have a more detailed discussion with TILL, Riverside Community Care and The Price Center about how we could possibly partner with them to make it happen.

If we are fortunate enough to avoid the Mega-B by permitting 21 SHI in 2017 via the pending Larkin and Borrelli 40B’s, then the town must get actively involved in planning the next steps for the following years until we build the rest of the 130 odd units of SHI that we will need to add to get to our 10% affordable housing safe harbor (and we need to add SHI at the rate of at least 21 per year).

I am hoping that, since my selectmen colleagues refused my proposal that the selectmen assign the task of producing affordable housing to our town administrator (to lead and accomplish), that that the task will instead be assigned to the soon to be retained affordable housing consultant.  The draft RFP for that affordable housing consultant (I received it this morning) calls for responses to be received by January 10, so that affordable housing consultant will be on board soon.  To make the consistent annual progress that is required, someone must be responsible and someone must be leading the process.  I see producing affordable housing in Medfield as currently a scattered, headless effort, crying out for leadership.

 

Brothers Marketplace sponsors volunteer awards

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Brothers Marketplace Sponsors the Medfield Foundation Volunteer Awards

Today it was announced that Brothers Marketplace will sponsor the 2017 Medfield Foundation Volunteer Awards and recognition reception at 3PM on March 19, 2017 at The Center to fete the many volunteers.

The Medfield Foundation (MFi) annually fetes at its Volunteer Awards those individuals, suggested by fellow residents, whose extraordinary efforts and activities have made a special marked difference in the quality of life in Medfield.  At the reception on March 19 the town will celebrate all the nominated individuals, and the MFi will name its Volunteer of the Year, Youth Volunteer of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for 2017.

The Volunteers Awards are based entirely on nominations submitted by the public, and solely on the information submitted.  Give recognition to your special volunteer on the form at www.medfieldfoundation.org.

 

Mass vs. US on property taxes

I was just reading the Lincoln Institute’s piece on how property taxes in Massachusetts shape up compared to the rest of how the states in the United States do things.  In general, Massachusetts cities and towns rely more on our property taxes, and less on sales taxes or fees to run our cities and towns than the rest of the states.  Massachusetts towns get just below the average state monies contributed to them.

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