Fee for plastic bags discussed

On April 23, 2014, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

By David R. Smith

Plastic could soon come at a price, although some might say that – when it comes to the environment – it already does.

During the Board of Aldermen’s last meeting, Ward 6 Alderman Rebecca Gewirtz said an article she read in the Boston Globe suggested that charging 5 cents per plastic bag does more to dissuade people from using them –and using cloth bags in their place- than efforts to outright ban their use in stores.

“That evidently changes people’s behavior very quickly,” she said.

She noted other communities have also looked at either bans or fees, and, she added there’s good reason for it given the fact the plastic bags don’t biodegrade and oil is used in their production.

“They’re just an all-out harmful element,” she said. “This is an issue that is very important for the city and is near and dear to my heart.”

She did acknowledge, though, that the idea might meet with some resistance from a financial point of view.

“No one wants to harm or unfairly economically disadvantage people who are low income or who rely on these bags because they’re free,” she said. “There are ways to get free reusable bags, and if you assess a small fee like this, I think people would find that way.”

Board of Aldermen President Bill White suggested the idea be discussed among some of the board’s subcommittees, such as those addressing energy issues and legislatives matters, to determine what the city can and can not do on the issue of assessing a fee for grocery bags.

The issue comes a little under a year after the board passed an ordinance, one also led by Gewirtz, banning restaurants and business from using polystyrene (Styrofoam) products such as coffee cups. That ordinance is set to take effect in June.

“That’s probably the thing I’m proudest of (as an alderman),” Gewirtz said.

On the issue of plastic bags, she would like to see a similar follow through from discussion to some sort of action.

“Let’s look at what some other communities are doing and come to a conclusion together for what’s the best avenue moving forward,” she said.


71 Responses to “Fee for plastic bags discussed”

  1. A. Moore says:

    Like we don’t use oil in the making of the cloth bags. What is the problem? We take the bags to be recycled at the supermarket. We banned Styrofoam which is recycled. Problem is why are we even doing this on a city level. This should be a state issue at the very least and the city officials should be working on the problems of this city and stop wasting time on these issues. Many of is who no longer shop in Somerville won’t have a problem with this. And mostly it hurts the little guy. Stop and Shop pays you to use cloth bags. Eventually the system will change.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Another item from the city elected officials that is harmful to families and the elderly. First of all, I will not use reusable bags because of the research I have read about the bacteria that collects in them, which is harmful to children. This is about the young hipsters who are shopping every few days for themselves. Try going to the grocery store with a couple of toddlers in tow and carrrying enough reusable bags for a weeks’ worth of groceries for a family of 5 or 6. I don’t think this administration will be happy until all of the families and the elderly have moved on.

  3. Me says:

    Regressive taxes are bad, except when they promote something I want. The I can just wave aside any of the effects to the poor.

    What a lame money grab, find something useful to do with your time busybodies.

  4. Jim says:

    Does Alderman Gewirtz have a suggestion for how I should carry my groceries home I need to go to the supermarket on my way home from work? I’m a T commuter so when I do this, I don’t have reusable shopping bags with me…..and I only have two hands.

    We are an environmentally aware household and use reusable shopping bags as much as possible , but banning plastic bags is ridiculous. We re-use our plastic shopping bags as garbage bags in our small trash cans. We also recycle them (certain stores take them back) or give them to dog owners who use them to scoop poop.

    While banning things you don’t like may feel good, it will negatively impact people. Why not just mandate that stores that use plastic bags provide a way to return bags for recycling?

  5. Courtney O'Keefe says:

    Although I am supportive of efforts to lower our carbon footprint, I have to point out the poor timing of this legislation. Just this past January, many residents and businesses, alike, saw steep increases in their tax bills with some even being cited by the Ward 6 Alderman, herself. I’m puzzled as to how banning or placing a cost on plastic bags assists those who are already struggling to make ends meet. The fact that this is being discussed just a month or so before the polystyrene ban (which I did support) makes it all the more frustrating. Like I have already written to the Aldermen at Large, the Mayor’s Assistant, the Director of Sustainability and the Ward 6 Alderman, I would like to see the administration’s plan for tax relief before we burden businesses and residents with legislation that communities such as Brookline, Newton and Cambridge are considering.

    Trivial and insignificant as the cost of the plastic option may seem to some Executive Directors of certain State Associations, these nickels and dimes are going towards the rising cost of living, working, playing and raising a family in the City of Somerville.

    I too have read the studies on reusable bags, Anonymous, but have begun to witness a way that retailers are avoiding the bacteria scare. They wrap my meat, chicken and fish in plastic bags first before placing it in my cloth bag.

    Jim, we do have an ordinance that mandates that stores of a specified square footage provide plastic bag recycling on the premises. I have always felt that this was a good compromise for those who are environmentally conscious and those who need the cheaper option of a plastic bag.

    I feel that there is a place in the City’s Ordinances for this ban, but now is not the right time.

  6. SomMom says:

    Our family uses reusable shopping bags without any trouble, even though we have kids and even when we walk to the store or buy groceries on our way home from work. Here are some ideas:

    1) You can carry reusable bags on your shoulder, and they can hold more than a plastic or paper bag, so you carry more items at once. Makes it easier to carry alot of things upstairs,too.

    2) They’re proposing a 5 cent a bag fee, not banning them, so you can still buy some plastic bags to use as trash liners (as we do too), and we only use newspaper bags (smaller ones) to clean up after the dog.

    3) At the very least, people would ask for their groceries to be put in fewer bags so they won’t be paying for as many bags as the baggers currently put items in.

    4) Hopefully the stores or the city will have some way to give reuseable bags to the impoverished. They could be given out free at food pantries.

    5) I think the city did already mandate that large stores in Somerville have to provide a way to recycle bags? And how many people actually bring their bags back to recycle anyway?

    6) There are smaller bags that roll up into a ball that you can put in your work bag or purse, so whenever your without your car or a bunch of bags and buy something, you’ll have at least one bag to use.

    7) The canvas bags can be thrown in the washing machine to get rid of bacteria, soil, etc. that might be on fruits and vegetables. You could also just pay 5cents for a plastic bag to carry those things in. OTher food like canned and boxed items don’t have bacteria. We use the same bags each week for just veggies.

    8) “While banning things you don’t like may feel good, it will negatively impact people.” = Since you’re environmentally aware, maybe think about how your grandchildren might react to this idea 70 years from now? I think its the plastic that won’t decompose and will still be around then that will more negatively impact people for years to come, than a little inconvenience in carrying around reusable bags today.

    And remember smoking … It used to be that everyone would light up inside, not ask if anyone minded, and expect to have an ashtray around. Times change! I doubt my parents ever thought the day would come that smokers would have to be a certain distance outside a building in order to smoke. Plastic bags are to the environment as the smoke is to our health. I think we’re going to have alot more harder changes coming in the future than paying for plastic bags.

  7. gregtowne says:

    How am I supposed to pick up after my dog?

  8. Kara says:

    – It’s true that fossil fuels probably played a part in manufacturing a reusable bag. But of course you know that renewable forms of energy are also used in the manufacturing sector. A big problem with single use plastic bags is that many of them are not disposed of properly, and find their way into nature where they can strangler or poison wildlife and pollute the soil and air. There is such a plastic litter problem that the world’s sandy beaches is increasing comprised of tiny grains of plastic (“plastic sand”) which delivers endocrine disruptors and other toxins to our food chain. For that reason alone, we should be very mindful of how we consume and dispose of plastic.

    – There are cloth bags you can purchase (organic cotton, recycled content fabric, nylon) that are easy to wash. Of course, the fabrication of cloth bags brings its own burden of energy use and inputs, but the longer the bags are used, the less environmental impact each bag represents, until a break-even point of #uses makes the cloth bags beneficial.

    – Many countries in Europe have already banned single-use plastic bags, so this is feasible.

  9. Kara says:

    A. Moore: “Problem is why are we even doing this on a city level. ”

    I think because often it takes a few municipalities to drive state-wide action, much in the same way it takes a few states to drive federal action.

    It’s very typical for local or state govt to have more stringent regulations/laws than larger govt.

  10. Kara says:

    SomMom, I especially like your idea about distributing reusable bags to the poor and elderly.

  11. Jim says:

    You presume Somerville’s plastic bags end up in landfills. Much of the municipal solid waste in this area is incinerated at the Wheelerbrator Waste to Energy plant in Saugus.

    Approximately half of the municipal solid waste in Eastern and Central MA is sent to incinerators.

  12. Lou Lou says:

    With Courtney on this one. I need time for the tax bill scar to fade before you starting grabbing at my wallet again.

  13. Maybe... says:

    Is alderman Gewirtz willing to donate her alderman’s salary to help defray the cost of providing a free cloth bag to all somerville residents?

  14. wondermom says:

    so sick of the arrogance Som-mom represents. because something works for your perfectly adorable family, it should work for all, right? just wear the bag on your shoulder? unless you’re MY Som-mom who’s 80 and frail, but does all her own shopping. You’re sure the city will find a way to give them out free to us? What planet do you live on? and they’re not banned, you can still buy them. this is what we’re complaining about. we don’t want to buy them. Just roll them up in your work bag. I don’t have a work bag. You’ve got it all wrapped up, don’t you?

  15. Jim says:

    Last thing I’ll add to this is that if you’ve ever spent any time at an active landfill or worked in the solid waste industry, like I have, you’d realize that plastic bags aren’t really that big a deal. They are less than 1% of the municipal solid wastestream by volume. Environmentalists have become fixated on plastic bags like they are some sort of anti-Christ while we are surrounded with many more serious environmental problems some of which I’ll list below
    1) Impaired waterways due to non-point source pollution
    2) Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) that dump raw sewage into Alewife Brook, the Mystic, and the Charles River every time it rains heavily
    3) Failing infrastructure that results in millions of wasted human hours and air pollution due to traffic
    4) Illegal dumping of construction debris, tires, and hazardous waste in urban wetlands and wooded areas
    5) Inefficient building stock that wastes energy
    6) People who still refuse to recycle for reasons I can’t understand

  16. Johnnie Jazz says:

    wondermom, I am with you 110% on SomMom (and even Kara) — I read their little lectures (disguised as posts) and just had to laugh. It must be nice to live in their perfect yuppie bubbles and then pontificate to the rest of us (you know…. the dirty, unwashed and uncivilized masses who work for a living) about what’s best for us. The stupid ignoramuses that we all are. Thank God we have them around as I would have no clue what to think/eat/smoke/drink, who to date and now how best to shop at the grocery store. The saddest part is they don’t even realize what pompous jerks they come across as.

    Leave the damn plastics bags as a FREE option. Do a little research and you’ll see that banning plastics bags costs more and can be deadly. http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/Banning-plastic-bags-a-bad-maybe-deadly-idea-5358177.php

    and shouldn’t the BOA be dealing with local issues like the theft of our property taxes, getting more businesses to relocate here and the huge problem with heroin we have? Instead they’re wasting their time on plastic bags???? Really?

    Oh and I know a lot of the “impoverished” (related to too many of ’em) and if they’re at a food pantry do you really think they’re going to want a reusable bag? For what???? Maybe to lug empties to the packie, but they’re not going to be bringing them to market basket to shop for tofu and kale.

  17. Somerbreeze says:

    I’m all for local recycling, but I’m really weary of pontificators of Yuppy Family Values and their smarmy postings…

    Nestling into their super-duper little condos for a trial run at “vibrant city living” before relocating to the ‘burbs, and talking down to other residents about The True Conduct of Living is both contemptible and pathetic.

    Is this the future of Somerville? We are truly cursed if it is….

  18. wondermom says:

    even just using the term ‘impoverished’. if you can’t or won’t pay their silly fees and fines for not agreeing with them, you must be ‘impoverished’. if you don’t have a trust fund, you’re ‘impoverished’ yes, the know-it-all contingent around here is out of control. More and more people use re-usable bags. Educating people works. Banning things is never the right approach. and, yes, there are so many things we should be working on…….

  19. noabitya says:

    It is nice to be concerned for the environment but some people go overboard. There is a thing called evolution. If people are going to try to change everything, down the line evolution will win out and the dinosaurs will be back and we will be their breakfast, lunch, dinner.

    The bike riders talk about vehicle pollution,when in fact after a ten year federal study where bikes were used in metropolitan areas, there was no change in the pollution because in fact the emissions from tall buildings and the materials they were made from was the real cause of pollution.

    Then the bike riders wanted their special bike paths, costing hundreds of millions of dollars and once they were completed, the bikes now want control of the streets.

    A stupid move on their part as it has now awakened the insurance industry and state to an added source of revenue; bike insurance, bike license plates, inspection stickers, excise tax, moving violation tickets, etc. – welcome to the real world as the motor vehicle drivers are going to demand equity on the roadways and if they have to pay then bikes will too.

  20. Johnnie Jazz,

    I always look forward to your posts–thanks for your much needed rationale as to why plastic bags have now topped the city’s most wanted list.

    It’s a way to keep us all busy so we look the other way–

    Speaking of taxes, the residential exemption applications are not sent out to everyone at one time, they send about 1,000 out when your scheduled time is due, every few years. But don’t expect to see the promise of 35% (increase of 5%) until 2017 when they are scheduled to again check valuations on our properties, like the ghost of Christmas past.

    The issue of our RE tax bills, is far more important than plastic bags. In my opinion, and again I speak from reliable sources, one who studied renewable energy and would provide due diligence for a company–some of this going-green are scams.

    There have been ongoing debates on wind farms — some claim they do more damage than provide a source for energy.

    Why isn’t the Ward 6 Aldermen going after big oil companies who pollute far more than plastic shopping bags?

    Why doesn’t the government force these companies to provide remedies to decades long pollution problems they have caused to our environment–water, air and soil? Even if sued, they pay a fine and go back to business as usual as so many other law breaking corporations.

    Ask yourself–who benefits the most by forcing people to pay for plastic bags–is it the supermarkets, the canvas bag manufacturer or the cities who just found another cash cow at their disposal.

    Ward 6 alderman is just another “what can I do for me” opportunist, as she has proven herself to be in the past. Maybe this is another way to make money off the residents of our city, as her idea to increase meters in Davis Square to 10:00 p.m. We know how well that plan turned out.

    Follow the money–that will be your answer as to why plastic bags have now become the monster hiding in your closet. Why should we have free plastic bags to be used for doggie poop bags or bathroom basket liners, when we could spend hundreds of dollars buying costly bags from manufacturers who make them for us? Aren’t those also toxic?

    Maybe we could ban trash bags and just toss our garbage in the highly toxic plastic garbage barrels.

    I understand the concern for natural wildlife, but it’s not the answer–it’s a mere fraction of the bigger problem we face.

    Bottom line–many companies are profiting off “green energy”. There are people who research these companies for a living and will not work with those who hold frivolous claims about what their product will do, while demonizing their competitors.

    Force the supermarkets to provide cloth bags to all their customers. They certainly make enough money to afford it and doing so will prove to their communities, that they are committed to saving the environment.

    How about encouraging people to shop less since the mayor is always reminding us of the obesity problem–then supermarkets can close down and we will be forced to grown organically in our own kitchen greenhouse.

    It’s wrong to make the public pay for this and I believe Ward 6 alderman is attempting to garnish more brownie points from her boss. If this is all she can list as her accomplishments–? We all know how important her precious hipsters and yuppies are in her own private-Idaho-Davis Squared.

  21. Courtney,

    I appreciate your comments and wishing you the best in all you do to make our city a more humane, rational and economically balanced place to live.

    I hope you will continue to be involved with the city and have another opportunity to run for office.

    You are a breath of fresh air! Thank you!

  22. amen says:

    who gets free plastic bags? Dog owners, that’s who. Free dispenser at dog parks, yeah, free. what do I get free? zippo, that’s what. Why are we not charging a fee for these plastic bags. Use a bag everytime your mutt poops, as opposed to me using one to carry home a load of groceries. Yeah, I’M the problem……
    I am so stupid I need to be fined to use a bag. Somehow I managed to raise a family, own a home, keep 2 jobs, care for elderly family–all without ever setting foot in Someday Café or Soundbites. Never attending a festival or road race. Yeah, just stupid old me keeping it real, the backbone of this city.

  23. Bambi says:

    Makes you wonder how generations survived before the invention of the plastic bag.

  24. A. Moore says:

    Those millions spent on those bike paths were well worth it. With the increase in homelessness in Somerville we can put up little cardboard houses for them along the bike path. Then since they don’t have a bathroom they can use those plastic bags. Oops, guess if they don’t have that nickel they are out of luck. I guess the real problems in this city just don’t come up for discussion. Just not the in thing.

  25. MarketMan says:

    Just use paper bags! is that not ok? 😉

  26. MarketMan says:

    noabitya: are you serious?? haha

  27. amen says:

    MarketMan, sure use paper bags, if you want to. the point is not having these decisions made for you or being fined because you have a different view

  28. Ron Newman says:

    If this tax is implemented, you could just buy a few plastic bags for a nickel each and reuse them on subsequent trips to the supermarket, instead of getting (and paying for) new bags. The tax is intended to encourage this behavior. Reuse is preferable to recycling, which is preferable to throwing stuff in the trash.

  29. Pixie Pocahontas says:


    Some of us are concerned with where the money is going and also some of us prefer using plastic because it’s cleaner.

    If you read the link Johnny posted, there were deaths and sickness caused by contaminated cloth bags.

    More importantly, I have my doubts plastic bags are really that harmful at all. If so, why aren’t we banning all plastics? Certain water bottles are considered harmful as well, so why not form a picket line at stores who sell them? I was told you should only use bottles displaying a certain number at the bottom.

    Why aren’t we using money to clean our beaches and oceans?
    If you apply this ban and fine, really what the nickel is- it should be universal.

    I enjoy having my free cvs, shaws, clothing retail bags for other uses. This appears to be another way to tax the consumer while adding another police state violation of out civil liberties.

    If they are so harmful, let the surgeon general do a study and publish it for the world to see. My personal opinion, the cloth bag industry is looking to make huge profits, nothing more.

  30. NO says:

    Ron, you’re missing the point. we need to stop this endless taxing as punishment or behavior modification. Taxes were supposed to cover government services, not shape our behavior to what you want. That’s the point. You cannot tax people into conforming to your wishes. This discussion shouldn’t be about solutions to the bag fee, it should be about whether this is an appropriate fee, and it isn’t. I use my own bags religiously, so this fee won’t affect me, but that doesn’t matter, this is wrong.

  31. Johnnie Jazz says:

    Ron, the bags costs less then 1c to produce – the tax would be 5c. Who is making the extra gravy there – which “global cooling/warming/change” group /shyster / lobbyist? Someone wants to fool the low information alarmists into another reach into our pockets. Or some of our esteemed (cough, cough) local pols are getting kickbacks.

    Also, plastic bags reusable?? Which plastic bags are you taking about? The ones I carried home from Stop & Stop yesterday can’t be used for anything beyond picking up after your dog as they rip with anything heavier than an apple in them. If you carry them any distance anyway.

    So all I can say in response to your post is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hfYJsQAhl0

  32. Courtney O'Keefe says:

    Thank you, Pixie. Say ‘hello’ if you ever find yourself in Magoun Square.

  33. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    Will do, Courtney!

  34. Anna Peroni says:

    Plastic bags are reusable. So, you bring your plastic bag with you and reuse it. Otherwise, you pay a small plastic bag fee. Enforce it, and people will adapt in no time.

  35. Johnnie Jazz says:

    Anna, I have a nice compromise for you, SomMom and Kara; you can re-use those micro-thin and easily ripped plastic bags to your heart’s content and then voluntarily pay the 5c “tax” when you can’t get your groceries home. The rest of don’t want to be taxed to “adapt” for a misguided and useless policy.

    But again – it’s a free country (well for a little while longer), so if you want to pay a tax to grocery stores/plastic companies and their lobbyists then have at it. Just don’t try to force the rest of us to “adapt”. k?

  36. No, Anna says:

    again, missing the point. You want us to adapt to another fee? what are you, a Stepford wife? keep adapting to whatever the government feels like slapping on you? a plastic bag fee, you people are unbelievable. Sheep in people’s clothing

  37. question for Anna says:

    do you realize, Anna, that we will have to pay for a plastic bag to carry our groceries home, while heroin users receive free needles to use illegal drugs with? What, on earth, is wrong with this picture?

  38. Anna Peroni says:

    Ah, the sexist pigs are out in force now! You are all tough guys on the internet, but then when wifey yells at you, you run away with your tail between your legs and whine! I say that people should pay for plastic bags, that is the way it’s going to be, whether you like it or not. How do I know? Because I have more access than you can imagine. This has already been decided. So, zip it.

  39. Johnnie Jazz says:

    Anna, too funny. I bet your husband (that poor SOB) travels a lot.

  40. Anna Peroni says:

    My who? The poor bastard lost every single penny long ago!

  41. bob says:

    To Mr. Newman. Taxes are not meant to be used as ‘behavior modification’. That is the entire problem with all of our politicians and the lemmings that blindly follow them. Taxes are supposed to cover public services (police, fire, school, etc.), and public maintenance (roads, sewers, etc.). But when they find that they can’t also fund raises and jobs for their friends, they dream up new taxes in order to fund their own personal agenda.
    ? for Anna. You have hit the nail on the head. We will pay because our behavior doesn’t fit their model, but if you are an IV drug user you get your supplies for free at clinics, or for a small fee at CVS.

  42. Bambi says:

    Don’t forget taxes on sin sticks and booze!

  43. Matt C says:

    Taxes are not meant to be used as ‘behavior modification’… Really?
    Think about things like smoking cessation can tobacco taxes, the “benefit” of being able to file your taxes jointly encourages people to get married. Import taxes encourage consumption of domestic goods.

  44. so wrong says:

    I personally have never heard anyone mention tax benefits when deciding to get married. taxing goods is completely different. we’re talking about taxing individuals as punishment for behavior you don’t agree with. Tax breaks encourage business to locate here, etc. completely different. Taxing a person because they CHOOSE to use a plastic bag is a punishment. If you really believe tobacco tax goes to cessation programs, I dare you to get on the phone and try to find a program.
    At least all science agrees that smoking harms people. This issue is far from definite, and is already being impacted by large numbers of folks using their own bags. We change these things through education, not taxes and fees.

  45. don't get it says:

    Matt, the point was, and still is, taxes were never supposed to be to shape behavior. You’re pointing out that we’re doing that now, just means we’re doing things wrong. It’s supposed to cover expenses incurred — excise tax covers road repairs, snow removal. Property tax covers education, trash removal, etc. are you following?

  46. bob says:

    And your point is? Yes, we have many taxes that are used to attempt behavior modification. But, again, that is not supposed to be the purpose of a tax.

  47. Matt C says:

    @So Wrong & @don’t get it – I follow, but I am neither myopic nor shortsighted in understanding how taxes can be used.

    People don’t mention tax breaks for married people as a reason to get married (though sometimes as a reason not to get divorced). We also don’t say the mortgage tax write off as a reason to buy a home, but anyone that has appreciates its impact… We have tax incentives to encourage specific types of business or industry to move to locations… We have subsidies to encourage specific groups of people to live in our city.

    You seem happy to accept the tax breaks that you like and not those that you don’t – its not particularly surprising. If you disagree with taxes being used to impact behavior that on you – that’s cool and best luck changing how the system works…

    Taxes impact price, price (or cost) impact behavior – its as simple as that.

  48. obtuse? says:

    the tax benefits you mention are part of building businesses and home ownership. are you really not getting the difference or are you being obtuse? home ownership builds community, etc. am I really explaining this to you? Then taxing an individual so they’ll stop using plastic bags goes against the purpose of taxing. Read up on the origin of taxes, the purpose and what they’re supposed to be limited to. giving more examples just shows how this has become accepted. Myopic and shortsighted? I always like to note which side starts the name calling

  49. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    I also agree that politicians uses new taxes to create slush funds for themselves and their special interests.

    Another example is the sharp rise in RE tax hikes we have endured over the past several or more years, only to find out that 4 former aldermen, some who have stepped down from office without valid reason are given &100 k jobs.

    Matt, you’re argument is weak.

    When taxes no longer pay for services needed, and serve only to benefit some scheme thereby cheating the working class out of more money that should go to benefitting their quality of life–that is a crime, which should have consequences. I’m so tired of the liberals and their ridiculous concept of saving the planet. They should be saving the few brain cells given to them for their own personal agendas. If they really want to make a difference, get into a raft with green peace and save some whales. The courageous souls who actually can make a difference–but it takes real guts to stop the biggest polluters and poachers on the planet. Obviously, clowns like the ward 6 airhead would never be up for something as important, so they choose to keep squeezing the struggling residents until they have nothing left and give up, move away to make room for more deadbeat airheads who keep sucking off programs as these who only benefit themselves.

  50. tired says:

    pixie, I’m tired of you saying Aldermen retired for no valid reason. you repeat it endlessly. When someone retires or quits, they don’t need to give you a ‘valid reason’. People can quit whenever they want. I agree with everything else, but can you give up this point? it makes no sense of anykind. What would be a ‘valid reason’, anyway? in your mind, I mean

  51. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    Valid Reasons: retirement; new job preferably in the private sector: due to illness. When they retire, they retire, I disapprove of anyone collecting 3 state or federal pensions, taxpayers pay enough.Everything else is questionable. I was told by several reliable sources that there were indictments handed down to at least one former alderman who left before their term was completed. It seems odd that they would leave just a few months before the end of their term. If the alderman who was allegedly indicted gets a job within this administration, that is a disgrace to law abiding employees if our town and a slap in the face to our taxpaying voters who will continue to pay this criminal, does that also include his pension? Let his family of lawyers carry his sorry @ss. Anyone who condones what he did regarding fraud zoning and enterprising condo schemes must also be part of the dirty brood we taxpayers have put up with for far too long. I also resent the obvious cover up when this leaked out to resident watchdogs. We can do better.

  52. with tired says:

    I agree with tired. Whose business is it why someone is quitting.

  53. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    If a town official is breaking the law or in violation of ethical ordinance, it should be public knowledge. Those in violation, should then be terminated without severance and pension. Not allowed to quit, appoint someone to pick up where they left off to continue their ill conceived plans.

    That is my point. Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s @ss why people quit their jobs if they are innocent of wrongdoing.

    If you are attempting more damage control for those lame cronies, don’t waste your time. Go back to your crusty old armchair and watch Fox News.

  54. Bambi says:

    Alderman are quitting to take jobs with the City to drive their future pension payouts higher. Pension calculations weight the last years of work more. By going from a part time Alderman to a full time City employee, they will get a huge spike in their pension payout. The state needs to reform the pension system, but the pols are the ones who benefit, so it won’t happen.

  55. tired says:

    if true, that will all come out. until then, it’s a rumor. again, agree with everything else, but re-state my original point.

  56. ritepride says:

    When Tip O’Neill said “All Politics is Local” it was his tongue in cheek way of blatantly telling the taxpayers that Tip was getting more than his fair share of the pie.

    Back then having a “front man” buy dilapidated properties in the east end of the city that then were qualified for federal funds to rehab and then flip them for a good profit worked well for the Gang on the Hills, (be it Central Hill, Bacon Hill, and Capital Hill) all did very well. Every so often a house would go to the front man for his hard work. After all he was the only one who was really working.

    You can bet that here in historic Somerville, The All America City – Da Envelope Puhleez ! The same type real estate deals are going on today…only the names have changed to protect the guilty… Down the line one of the gang will feel deprived and rat out the others and it will be “”indictments pending” but who will it be…some Politicians? Bankers? Lawyers? Real Estate Agents? Developers? …Ah a Quintifecta !

    Will the questionable issue on the sale of the Union Sq. Post Office lead to more & bigger investigations??? Think Mr. Winns Casino will be taking bets on this issue?? Only time & Grand Juries will tell.

  57. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    The fix is always in because they are connected to those who can put them behind bars. They think we’re all stupid, guess what. Some of us are paying attention. They are hired to serve the constituency, not themselves. This is not Wallstreet Somerville, Mass– and we don’t give out bonuses to the dumbest guys in the room. Many locals are struggling to rain in their homes and the same local pols are taking away from people they grew up with–how rotten can one be to do that! And I also read by another enlightened soul , that the one doing the hiring is another former alderman. HOW SWEET IT IS, as Jackie Gleason would say. What these bums need is one swift kick to the moon. Can they get a real job and save the taxpayers a few nickels? Now the mayor wants another $500k to clean out Assembly–let me guess, more condos. Do his darling yuppies not want the views of H-Depot
    , la Quinta, Kmart and empty theatre? Now he wants to bulldoze everything in sight? How much will we pay to break KMart’s 99 year lease?

  58. bob says:

    When you are elected to a position you are agreeing to serve a set amount of time, usually in municipal government you agree to serve 2 years. If leaving before that term is up, ethically and morally, should be for a real reason such as illness. Not that oft-heard I want to spend more time with my (grown) children.

  59. agreed says:

    absolutely if you leave before the term is up, you owe people an explanation. otherwise, none of our business why you’re leaving. I wish they’d all leave

  60. Pixie Pocahontas says:

    Term limits should be set for all officials. If they do their jobs well and take care of the constituency, it should be up to them to vote them in again, not the funny business that goes on.

  61. Smokeshop Romeo says:

    Are you saying that selling off the city’s main post office, not telling anyone about it, and moving it into a beauty salon owned by Rich DiGirolamo around the corner, is questionable?

  62. Pixie Pocahontas says:


  63. ritepride says:

    I think the residents should appoint Fox 25 News Charmin Sharman Sacchetti as head of Personnel Dept for Somerville. Notice the way Deval Patrick grimaces everytime she goes after him with legitimate questions. He looks like he has an ingrown hair on his left nutsack.

    Yeh she could clean up the Big Hall on Central Hill….They’d either quit, be indicted, or hang themselves.

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  65. amen says:

    why plastic bags? Dunkin hands out millions of Styrofoam cups which Somerville can’t recycle—are we fining/taxing them? How about pizza boxes? usually can’t be recycled because of oil. Tax? Many of our take-out places, restaurants send food out in Styrofoam. Why plastic bags, which ARE recyclable? sounds like someone’s got a bee in their bonnet about plastic bags

  66. hater says:

    Rebecky Gewirtz already banned styrofoam. She needs to start thinking about people whose daddies weren’t doctors and stop endorsing losers who care more about assembly then the ward they represent. She’s making our lives miserable.

  67. Hey, can we start calling her the “BAG LADY”?

  68. Boss Jonny says:

    Pixie, you are not worthy of kissing Gerwitz’s feet! Get a job, little sister, instead of mooching off your parents! :)

  69. Bambi says:

    This paper cup makes my life so miserable. I blame Rebecky for the injustice.

  70. go becky go says:

    can’t wait until she bans toilet paper and we all have to use our hands

  71. Boss Jonny says:

    My cat died today. Gerwitz’s fault, obviously. :)

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