Announcing GFA Retirement

    This photo is for GFA readers who never thought they would see me with a smile. Enjoy!

    Hello and Farewell,

    I am writing this post to announce that I am officially retiring Gasping for Ayer at the end of this month. The site will be coming down.

    Honestly, it has amazed me how this blog has been received. Though I haven’t posted in months, I am still getting hundreds of visitors a day. That is odd with material that is time sensitive in nature.

    It has been obvious that my posts have declined in frequency as my passion for local politics has waned. I am at a point in my life, where I think time is too precious for me to squander it broadcasting my views on community issues. I wish to focus my attention on health and fitness, family and friends.

    Simply stated, politics is a cruel mistress and regardless of your political stripes, she will leaving you feeling empty. Losses hurt and Wins are fleeting. My desire is to be a positive influence for change.

    I truly appreciate those who have read my work over the years. If you wish to continue reading my essays, and are willing to listen to me rave about Almond Butter and Barbells, feel free to visit my other blog, Defiant Wellness. There you will find no politics, just encouraging posts about staying alive and vibrant in spite of one’s chronological age. Yeah, I am still opinionated, but it’s positive.

    Thanks and God Bless you, your family and the quirky Town of Ayer – a funny little place I call home.



    GFA – Back On Line

    Yesterday was a day to celebrate our ongoing enslavement to the Government Over The People.


    I had taken a break.

    I needed to clear my mind.

    I had to do my taxes.

    Have I ever told you I hate paying taxes?

    Oh, geez.

    Now I’ve done it.

    The IRS SWAT Team is at the door.


    What lies ahead for GFA in 2014!

    Have you ever stopped for a brief moment, to look behind you to see what you have left in your wake?

    In recent years, for me, it has been thousands of words. I write daily and I post essays at least three days a week (but not on Gasping for Ayer for quite some time).

    Earlier today, I was writing a post on my Defiant Wellness blog about goal setting and I recalled a similar theme that I had written on GFA. So I went back and did a search to discover that it was an essay that I wrote exactly one year ago regarding my attempt to build or break 12 Habits in 12 months in 2012. That prompted me to poke around the old GFA site that had remained dormant for many months. I also checked my readership statistics. I was shocked.

    I hadn’t written a post since June, yet I am averaging over 500 pages views a month. In fact, one day in December, I had over 400 hits. This is bizarre.

    In the above mentioned post of 12-in-12, I closed the essay with the forecast that perhaps GFA would come to an end in 2013. Here I am a year later, with the domain facing renewal and I wonder what I should do. I confess, my lust for politics has made its way to the dustheap. I have little hope for our political process, as long as human beings are involved. So writing about civic issues can really be a downer, even for a perky guy like me. However, with the upcoming Selectmen’s Race becoming a fascinating game of Musical Chairs, I would hate to surrender this pulpit prematurely.

    Perhaps GFA can be reborn in some new fashion. I find having a blog to be a much more permanent piece of real estate than Facebook posts or Tweets (if you can consider any digital medium permanent). I guess we shall see within the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, dig out the snow, be observant of the winter parking ban, and please have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.





    Tim, we hardly knew ye

    Governor Deval Patrick applauds Timmy for taking a cab back to Worcester, instead of driving another state vehicle off the road.

    Our highly tarnished Lieutenant Governor has resigned. He joins the company of LtGovs from Florida and Nebraska, who also resigned in 2013. Three LtGovs in four months, that has to be some sort of record, eh?

    Tim  has finally established himself as a role model. One who recognizes that when things no longer pass the smell test, that perhaps a retreat is in order. Perhaps Mr. Murray can give our elitists in Washington some tips on resigning in disgrace. Timmy, drive safely.


    Fresh Air on Ayer BoS??

    When the Votes were tallied, the count was Livingston 353, Morriss 294, Maxant 288, Coulter 241

    Let me congratulate our newest member of the Ayer Board of Selectmen, Jannice Livingston. I honestly didn’t have a clue how this race would shape up, but I am pleased to see a fresh face and a cheerful disposition come to the table to represent us.

    Ms. Livingston now has a very steep learning curve as she get’s immersed in the issues, the personalities and the politics of the Ayer Town Hall. Be careful what you wish for Jannice, you just might get it. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, the only thing worse than losing an election in Ayer, is winning one. The other day I posted that we needed a Miracle in Ayer Town Hall, though I am not expecting Divine intervention in Ayer, I’d settle for rational thinking.

    Congrats also go to the embattled Treasurer, Stephanie Gintner, who has survived to fight another day. I believe she was able to muster votes as an underdog, due to the persistent attacks on her office by the Board of Selectmen for the past two years.

    My hope for this town is that now we can set aside some of the controversy and actually get something done for the benefit of the citizens. For starters, I hope when I leave for work on Wednesday morning I do not see any campaign signs. It is May 1, and it would be like to have an unobstructed view of the daffodils in bloom.


    Town Election April 30

    Every Town needs a Miracle or two in their Town Hall, don’t you think?

    Yes, I know, we do not have a race for Town Clerk. But I saw this sign in Merrimac, Massachusetts last week, and I thought it was quite appropriate for the contested offices in the Town of Ayer.

    After watching one candidates forum and moderating another, I learned more about what I don’t want than what I do want. Or perhaps I should say whom I don’t want.

    I must admit that I am not too pleased with the status quo, but then four years of Hope and Change hasn’t thrilled me one bit.

    I am pleased that we have four people interested in one Selectman seat, and three people desiring the Treasurer seat, and I appreciate their willingness to serve. However, I believe that regardless of who prevails at the polls on Tuesday, it will indeed take a Miracle to straighten out the shenanigans in Ayer Town Hall.






    Good News, Bad News, Worse News…

    Do you believe these officers served this man a search warrant before rummaging through his bag? What would have happened to this gentleman had he refused to comply, in accordance with his Fourth Amendment Rights?

    Like most people in the greater Boston Area, I was shocked by the cowardly terrorist attacks on innocent bystanders at this week’s 117th running of the Boston Marathon.

    That evening I sent a message to a friend expressing that my fear was not of the depraved people who would do such a thing, but for how our government would seize this opportunity to further trample our Constitutional rights.

    My prediction came true on Friday, when martial law was declared under the Governor’s politically correct euphemism of “shelter in place”. I was in awe of the incredible state and federal resources that were not conducting a regular police investigation, but rather a full-fledged military invasion of Boston Suburbs.

    During the winter, when Gov. Patrick declared a State of Emergency and he outlawed driving on the roads except for emergency personnel, I commented to my wife that he was performing a “dry run” of martial law.  This is New England, for goodness sake. People deal with blizzards all the time. I’ll gladly accept a suggestion or recommendation to stay home in a storm. I’ll exercise personal discretion and take a vacation day to stay home in a storm. But I defy the government to tell me I can’t go out in the snow. But hey, it worked. Millions of gullible people “obeyed” his excellency, the Governor. The stage was set.

    Fast forward to April 15th, all hell breaks loose. Volunteers and First Responders acted in a truly heroic fashion to aid those in need of care. Fortunately, because it was race day, there were many resources on the scene to be activated immediately. The huge volume of video footage from smartphones and building surveillance cameras caught several suspicious characters who “could have been” transporting a bomb, but it was the eye-witness description of Mr. Jeff Bauman, a victim of the bombing, that led to the proper identification of the alleged perpetrators. Once they were identified, the proliferation of social media all but guaranteed their eventual capture.

    I am most appreciative to all the dedicated police officers who were willing to place themselves in harms way to apprehend these villains. But I am extremely leery of politicians who will use tragedies such as this to prevent freedom to move about the city, freedom to do commerce, freedom to assemble, illegal searches and the like.

    While I am comforted that one suspect was apprehended and the other killed, I do not believe that the end justifies the means.I am certain that this essay will enrage some people, so be it. I believe our Constitutional Rights were codified for a events such as this. And I believe the rights of over one million people in the Boston are were grossly violated by our state and federal authorities, thus setting the stage for future actions whenever they deem appropriate.

    Now for those who are cursing at me, for not waving the Boston Banner, please note this: I am jubilant that these cowardly thugs are off the street. But while Bostonians were locked down, under martial law, there were other thugs in Washington, such as Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who was suggesting that the Marathon Bombing was perfect justification for the use of attack drones on civilian populations. While Bostonians were having their rights infringed by the government, King Barry was taking advantage of America being distracted, exploring this as an opportunity to further squash the Second Amendment through Executive Orders.

    This week has truly been tragic for hundreds of people directly killed or maimed by these heinous villains. Many thousands more have been traumatized by what they have witnessed. But millions will be affected for generations by the continual erosion of our civil rights, as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as citizens adopt an attitude of ambivalence in exchange for alleged government-provided “security”.

    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin


    Rest in Peace Mrs. Thatcher

    The Quote of the week is read by Amanda Thatcher, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s granddaughter. The passage is from Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians 6:14-18

    (I confess, I wish she had read through to verse 20).


    Resolve to be Free

    He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45


    Words are so inadequate to describe the sorrow for the victims of these horrific acts of terror upon our innocent friends and neighbors in Boston.

    Words are inadequate to describe the anger and frustration in dealing with a cowardly, invisible enemy.

    So we mourn. We pray. But we never surrender to fear.


    Jeremy is gone, but not forgotten

    Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Callahan’s Google+ portfolio

    My first run in with Jeremy Callahan was rather contentious. We were at a Town Meeting and I was fighting for weed treatment for Flannagan Pond. I didn’t know Jeremy from Adam. One thing was very clear, this kid and I were at opposite ends of the political spectrum. I am Right, and I am right, Jeremy is Left and he is wrong. Well that was my opinion at the end of that meeting.

    Since that time, I have grown rather fond of Jeremy. Though we do not agree on many political issues, I trust him on issues related to what is in the best interest for the Town of Ayer. I trust that he has no hidden agenda. He is passionate and he is transparent. If you want his opinion on a subject you can look on the Ayer Yahoo Groups, the Discus forum for Nashoba Publications, or you can just ask him.

    This is not to suggest that he is always right, or that I always agree with his position on matters, but I do trust him to tell me the truth as he sees it. That is one of the reasons I liked having him on the Ayer Planning Board. I thought he was a breath of fresh air on this board. As a community we had an opportunity to instill some progressive ideas (not a euphemism for liberal) in zoning and planning philosophies and bylaws. This would be particularly valuable at a time when new home construction seems to be at an all time high, creating an exponential demand upon services such as water, sewer, road acceptance and school attendance.

    But the Ayer Planning Board seems to prefer flying under the radar. Meeting minutes have gone for years without seeing the light of day. I recently cited an example of a set of meeting minutes from August 2012, that was missing an entire agenda item, discussion and vote regarding a property donation being offered to the Town. I would suggest you read this, if you missed it the first time around.

    A quick summary of this incident: Mr. Phil Berry came to the Planning Board and offered land on West Main Street to the Town for $1. The DPW has an easement to the property and would like to expand their operation there, and owning the land outright would have been beneficial to the Town. The Planning Board voted unanimously to support this purchase and told Mr. Berry that they would write a letter to the Board of Selectmen encouraging the purchase.

    This is all on film, yet the meeting minutes do not show Mr. Berry even attending the meeting. It makes no mention of his proposal to donate the land for $1. It makes no mention of the unanimous vote of the Board. It is like the meeting never even happened; except it did and you can view it and transcribe every word that was said.

    When Jeremy took his Chairman, and the Planning Board administrator to task for this, they responded the way they have for his entire tenure: they ignored him and locked him out of any process.

    This Planning Board’s failure to follow through, followed by their tacit denial, forced this to not be included on the warrant for Town Meeting. After months of finger-pointing and delays, Mr. Berry sold the property to Calvin Moore and the residents of the Town of Ayer were denied the opportunity to weigh on in the matter at Town Meeting. When Jeremy took his Chairman, and the Planning Board administrator to task for this, they responded the way they have for his entire tenure: they ignored him and locked him out of any process.

    This is indicative of how this Board has operated since Jeremy was elected. The administrator and the Chairman have treated Jeremy like a mosquito that simply needs to be  swatted aside or slapped down whenever he gets too annoying for them. The behavior of this board is despicable. A majority of the Ayer electorate decided that Jeremy Callahan would represent them on the Ayer Planning Board. The incumbents and administrator decided they had reserved the right to “lock him out”. Jeremy was elected to the Planning Board, but he was not welcomed to the board and he was treated like a leper any time he raised a question regarding the standard operating procedures.

    After a couple of years beating his head against the wall, Jeremy finally surrendered. Life is too short to spin your wheels sitting in a room of people who have no desire to cooperate, but only to protect their turf. Jeremy’s departure is a loss for the Town of Ayer and it is a disgrace to the Unplanning Board. With that said, I believe we have not heard the last of this kid.