Five Things: Knapik’s New Boss in Hot Water, Fresolo 2014, First Tech Firm To Leave and more…

Former Sen. Mike Knapik’s New Boss Under Microsope

Former State Senator Mike Knapik’s new boss is in hot water over lavish spending.  Now the Patrick administration is calling on the Westfield State Administration to release spending details.

At the direction of Gov. Deval L. Patrick, the state’s top education official Friday expressed concern about travel by Westfield State University President Evan S. Dobelle and ordered that an audit of Dobelle’s spending be made public within 30 days.

In his first public statement on the issue, Secretary of Education Matthew H. Malone said media reports on Dobelle’s expenses threaten to undermine public confidence in Westfield State and other schools.

In a letter to the university’s board of trustees, Malone said the governor shared his concerns that taxpayer’s funds be spent properly.

“As I am sure you appreciate, the issues … call into question the proper use of taxpayer funds, and also undermine the good and important work taking place on your campus and public campuses across the state.” Malone wrote.

Worcester’s Anthony Weiner – John Fresolo to Run in 2014

The Worcester Telegram is reporting that John Fresolo is set to run again in 2014.

But despite resigning in disgrace, Fresolo says he will run next year to reclaim his seat. Because he speaks only to journalists who write fawning profiles of him, he announced his intentions to Rosalie Tirella of InCity Times, after she wrote that he was ‘passionate’ and ‘sexy’ and urged him to run. In response, Fresolo wrote that ‘I do intend to run next year.’

His declaration came the same day as the special primary election to fill his seat, which cost $33,000 and will result in a Sept. 10run-off between Democrat Daniel Donahue and Republican Carol Claros, which, by the way, will cost another $33,000.

Despite the secrecy of the ethics probe, rumors have circulated that it focused on Fresolo’s alleged abuse of his per diem expenses, along with an Anthony Weiner-like episode that involved a young female staffer finding a picture of Fresolo’s, er, passionate sexiness on his office computer. The picture was reportedly not meant for the staffer, who was horrified nonetheless, and you can’t blame her.

House GOP Caucus Holding Tech Tax Forums

The Massachusetts Republican GOP caucus is holding a series of Tech Tax repeal forums across the state over the next few weeks. Including one in Bristol County.  The Attleboro Sun Chronicle has the story.

Republican legislators are holding a forum on business complaints about a new state tax on computer services, with an eye on preparing a bill to repeal the tax.

State Rep. Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield, said lawmakers are getting complaints about the tax from affected businesses.

The tax, he said, will not only hurt the high technology industry in Massachusetts, but it is so confusing companies are unsure how to comply with it.

Barrows said he heard from one local bank that got an $800 tax levied against it by its computer network operator.

When the bank protested that the services it receives are not subject to the tax, the network operator said its accountant disagrees and it has to charge the tax to be on the safe side.

First Tech Firm Makes Plans to Leave Massachusetts

The first technology firm has made plans to leave Massachusetts due to the technology tax enacted by the Massachusetts Legislature.  The Boston Business Journal has the story:

Z-Tech Associates CEO Zeus Estrada summed up the industry’s concerns nicely this week in a letter to Sen. Jamie Eldridge about the tax. Estrada, whose firm is based in Lexington, wrote that he would not vote for anyone who does not support a repeal of the tax, and that he will advise his firm’s 50 clients about the lawmakers who are to blame for the tax’s passage.

Business leaders have already started an effort to repeal the tax via a ballot initiative. But Estrada says the tech industry can’t wait until 2014, the soonest such a referendum could happen. The damage will be done, he writes, as he expects to lose many clients by then.

In an interview, Estrada tells me that he knows of many companies in Massachusetts who are holding back on expanding now because of the tax. He says he’ll soon be ready to expand but if the tax isn’t repealed, he’ll have to hunt for a space over the line in New Hampshire.

“I’m not going to expand in the state,” Estrada tells me. “I’m going to Nashua to expand. I’ll open up an office there. I’ll have servers there so customers can come in through the cloud.”

Massachusetts Wineries

This isn’t really a politics thing you should know, but it’s more a general business, and things to do in Massachusetts.  Did you know that Massachusetts has a vibrant winery community. This includes four wineries on the South Coast alone.  On Sundays I and some friends usually take a ride to nowhere in Massachusetts or New England in general. This weekend we went to go to the Westport River Winery, which I knew about.  Unfortunately it was closed on Sunday.  

The Westport River Winery did however leave out some South Coast Winery Passports, and the rest of those winery’s were open, and they were good.  

The first vineyard we went to was Coastal Vineyards which is in South Dartmouth.  The vineyard is literally in someone’s back yard, you go around a house to the tasting room in the basement.  This gives a new meaning to the term Wine Cellar.  They have over 9000 vines and make very good wine.  Particularly good were the Vidal Blanc, and Cabernet Franc wines.  

We then drove up to Running Brook Vineyards in North Dartmouth. This is a much larger operation that has 30 acres of vines planted, and makes 3500 cases of wine a year.  Again the Vidal Blanc was the star, as we a White Merlot, made after a particularly harsh frost last year.  It was here that we learned that the Vidal Blanc grape is what grows in Massachusetts the best.  

We ended the Massachusetts Portion of our trip at Trevessia Urban Winery in downtown New Bedford.  Here we were treated to a Wine and Chocolate Pairing with Taza Chocolate from Somerville Massachusetts.  Standouts here were the Vidal Blanc again, and the Salt and Pepper Chocolate.

We ended the trip at the Sakonnet Winery in Little Compton, RI.  This is a trip well worth making and you can support local Massachusetts Businesses.  

About Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno