Left In Lowell

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December 28, 2014

Getting Your Goat

by at 9:22 pm.

In case you lived under a rock this weekend, you probably heard about the Lowell Goat Incident. Which is to say, a goat was out and about on the loose in our fine city. Dispatch had a double take when it was called in. You can listen to the hilarious audio here:

The goat has its own Twitter feed, while it explores our city. And it’s making the Boston news as well. (Watch out for autoplay, sorry.)

So, in light of the absolutely lame excuse for a “Christmas gift Column” in the Lowell Sun today and its rather milquetoast “gift” to the Lowell PD, I offer this:

For Christmas for the Lowell Police Dept, may they apprehend this goat swiftly and without any goat headbutt injuries.

Addendum - at least it’s not the Gävle Goat!

December 27, 2014

Blinded by the Lack of Vision…

by at 11:36 pm.

So we’re into one year of this miserable City Council’s tenure now, and obviously I’ve been pretty quiet. But I have been quietly observing in the time since we lost City Manager Bernie Lynch and I have some very deep general impressions of the current administration and the so-called part-time weak Mayor.

One reason I went quiet, I think, is that eventually I would have sounded like a broken record. Complaining about the outrages and stupidity inflicted on us by the new olde guard would have gotten really tiresome quickly, even for me. I felt like I’ve been here before - watching crony hires and Councilors spitballing crazy motions with little actual consequence. I was weary, I’d seen it all before, and you do get ground down after a while.

But something I really have observed - besides a dislike of hard work by our new City Manager, who declared afternoons off for golf and who seems enjoy throwing his department heads under the bus - is the total, deafening lack of big vision with these people. There are no Patrick Murphys, or Bernie Lynches, and there are definitely no Paul Tsongas’s in the bunch.

Here’s some of the highlights of the last year:

- Trying to reduce or get rid of bike lanes. (Until outrage from the community stopped that cold, prompting Rita to tell us a little white lie about how she was “just trying to see if people cared.” Yeah, right.)
- Attempts to officially reduce the number of hours of paid meter parking downtown (which was inflicted on us by a downtown business Councilor, who should want more parking turnover, not less).
- Going after panhandlers. But just in downtown, of course, or more specifically, outside a certain Councilor’s empty dive bar. It has to be empty for a reason right? Patrons must be getting scared away by poor people asking for money! (Funny how Fuse doesn’t have this problem…they’re always packed…)
- Hiring a political City Manager with no managing experience, who then turned around and spent more money to hire a retired real City Manager, and who on several occasions managed to miss important fiscal deadlines (passing the buck notwithstanding). And if you don’t think KMurph doesn’t have a three-year-to-the-day pension-boosting expiration date on him, I have a bridge to sell you over the Merrimack…
- Going after Trinity Financial in an attempt to create a financial coup in rumored favor of some other developers. Trinity Financial has one of the best reputations in the state for urban development, so naturally, you want to get rid of them. Who needs long term thinking or commitment in Lowell for heaven’s sake??
- Trying to reroute the Bay State Marathon, because some people called. You know. Those people, the ones Rita listens to.
- Wanting to make public any surveillance of city employees out on disability, which would ensure that the surveillance is useless in trying to catch fraud against the city. Also, ignoring privacy and personnel laws to do it.
- Asking the state to let Lowell dissolve the need for a Chapter 17 stabilization fund because in the spring, Lowell used $2M from it to patch a deficit in Net School Spending and now Lowell’s new administration doesn’t want to have to pay it back any more.
- Asking the School Committee to develop a STEM curriculum for Lowell High School. Because you know, the School Committee is totally ignoring the schools…and needs the interference of the City Council.
- Snow removal. Always snow removal. This despite the fact Lowell has what amounts to a pretty well-oiled machine operation at this point, along with lots of new equipment from the last few years of capital investment.
- A city manager that doesn’t often bother to interview people for important positions, for job postings that often stay up a week or two at most. It’s hard work, administratin’. Just go with someone you know and that works, right?
- A motion that the ordinance against riding on the sidewalk should include the ability for police to seize skateboards - and bikes, Rita adds in. Over the objections of the police chief.
- Put Christmas lights on smokestacks. (Which are mostly private property as I recall…)
- Putting a stop to people stealing from Bud Caufield’s house. Because if it happened to Bud, it must be an ever increasing problem. Forget deploying police resources based on statistics! Bud got robbed dammit!!
- Gutless and powerless complaints against “newcomers [immigrant kids] in our schools” because they are expensive. Forget state and federal laws about education, we can ignore those…and this classic transcript from Belanger which astounded everyone.
- Violating Robert’s Rules and rules regarding what subcommittees can do, to spring big news on the rest of the Council about a failure to borrow monies on time via a subcommittee report:

Mayor Elliott begins to give a report on the finance subcommittee meeting of August 19, saying “if there are no objections I’ll give the report from here.” Councilor Martin says “I object” so Leahy takes the chair. Mayor proceeds with report from the floor. Auditor reported that former city treasurer had failed to borrow several million in funds for ongoing projects. There were deficits in various funds due to this. Consequently, there will be a negative free cash figure until the city can borrow the money on September 12 at which time there will be a large surplus of free cash. Also discussed was the operating deficit at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Regarding that, the manager will try to renegotiate portions of the management contract.

Councilor Martin says he appreciates the remedial measures by Mr. Healy and Baldwin but he doesn’t think the meeting was properly called, that it was called in violation of our rules and that’s so the council and the public has notice of what we will discuss. I saw the notice of this meeting; it was vague; I thought it was a mistake. I now think the notice was intentionally vague and that’s because the chairman knew they were not properly done without first going to the council. When I confronted the mayor about this he went to the newspaper and told some lies about what I said and I don’t appreciate that. It’s troubling to me that the person responsible for enforcing the rules (the mayor) violated those rules. Also would like in the future that information conveyed to the mayor be forwarded to all councilors which wasn’t done in this case. All matters that are to go to subcommittees must first come to the council. There was no emergency. It’s important that the entire council learn about something because that’s how the public learns about it.

Councilor Kennedy says to the Auditor that at the next meeting we’ll be two months into the fiscal year. I’ve asked for a bi-weekly report on how we’re doing. Auditor says she’ll send it out.

Mayor Elliott says he conducts business in an open forum. I’m not going to get bogged down in Robert’s Rules. We talked about closing the books for FY14 and we’re going to close that with a deficit because of this. It’s more important to me that we get things done rather than be nitpicky about things.

Councilor Mercier says earlier in this meeting Leahy moved to suspend the rules the mayor could have said it wasn’t on the agenda but he allowed it. Then you made a motion under suspension. That’s a double violation of the rules. I could have objected to it but I thought it was a good motion. Councilor Martin could have objected to that but he didn’t. Maybe there’s a meeting that shouldn’t be called for; well stay home. I keep quiet about the rules violations because I want the people to hear about it whether we’re in violation of the rules or not.

Councilor Martin: If the purpose of the meeting was to keep the public informed the purpose of the meeting should have been published ahead of time. I didn’t know about the purpose of the meeting until an hour beforehand.

Mayor Elliott: Councilor Martin just wants to slough off the importance of that meeting and get into a personality issue because he has a problem with me. That’s sad. We’re elected to do a job. The bottom line is there was a problem and I brought it forward. I’m not going to stick my head in the sand and wait for Councilor Martin to be ready.

- Harassing the legitimate operations of the methadone clinic. Seemingly on the complaints of one connected Dave Daly. Who is suing the city. But for some reason heavily involved in reelection campaigns of sitting mayors.
- Pushing hard to dictate that the School Department move its administration offices downtown (to bolster spending in dive bars, presumably) then complaining when they take a retail space for their needs in serving parents and students.
- Voting to support Artie T, a nice sentiment but it is inappropriate for a sitting political body to weigh in on a private business’ affairs. Also, a useless waste of time, with a lot of political grandstanding and puffery. (Note: I was with the workers who wanted ATD back; I just think this was a waste of time for the Council.)
- Demanding judges enforce state gun law and minimum sentences because this totally is something within the jurisdiction of the City Council. (That was sarcasm.)
- Requesting report on ratio of low income vs market rate housing in downtown, ostensibly to start a discussion on stopping more affordable housing. Too many poor people downtown means not enough patrons for the wicked fake irish bars there.
- Putting a youth curfew ordinance back into place despite the Supreme Court striking much of these things down. Infamous comment from Rita about eleven year old kids at night on bikes running drugs.
- Citations. Citations. Citations. I think it had to be some sort of record of them this last year.
- Banning fireworks which are already illegal. Requesting a special police task force to enforce it. Of course, this is already done, says the police chief. And, IMHO this was a totally ineffective exercise, because last summer was just as bad as the previous. So, another we-did-something-see waste of time.
- A discussion to attract a hotel to downtown Lowell. Because the last one did so well, it had to be bought out by a nonprofit University…Oh, and can Dave Daly develop it? He wants to develop it! (Then, why can’t he just DO that without help, if it’s such a great idea? What does he want, for the City to guarantee a certain number of bookings and to pay him for them if they don’t materialize?)
- Moving the high school out of downtown to…somewhere. Because this is also totally in the jurisdiction of the City Council. You know, that School Building Authority has nothing much to say about it…ruining South Common by putting the high school there seems like a good idea, maybe?
- Way more money to market the city’s dive bars — I mean, its businesses. Well specifically its downtown businesses. Because the city doesn’t do any of that. Ever.
- Constant. Discussions. About. Mayoral. Portraits. ‘Nuff said.
- Torpedoing appointments for boards and commissions just for being married to people Rita Mercier doesn’t like. (This sort of shenanigans stopped when Bernie left and with the hiring of KMurph, of course, because KMurph would never appoint someone associated with one of those mean, mean bloggers.)
- Illegal fundraising from the floor for restoration of religious statuary. Insisting on moving the manger back to city property - but if the “Jewish people think a menorah is part of their tradition” they were welcome to have one on city property too. Nothing yet on whether atheists or Satanists would be given the same courtesy, as it hasn’t been tested…yet.


Not listed here are the many petty or small things this Council passed, that can be somewhat useful, albeit again, lacking large vision. This is just the stuff I remember or found in notes and blog posts that demonstrate the sort of bogged-down-in-minutia and useless, ineffective leadership that we’ve come to expect from this session of our City Council.

In all my trolling through the notes and posts of this past year, I didn’t really find anything to wow me, that jumped out at me as vision. There are some initiatives that are going along as planned, like taking the next step in designing a trolley system, but these predate the current Council and administration, so I don’t consider them as Big Vision items that this Council can take credit for. All I know is that we got about what I expected, with some really unintentionally hilarious memes along the way. Kids on bikes dealing drugs, and newcomers in our schools…oh my! Stop those panhandlers and bring in the captive audience of the School Dept to save our downtown businesses!

Anyway, depressing. You can’t really wonder why I decided my personal life (like my new job, commute, and my family) were deemed a little more important in the last year. However, we’re heading into 2015, and it will be a local election cycle…so, the stakes, they are higher now, and I am a taxpayer here, after all. I can’t promise anything, except that with the Christmas season over and with less need to make handmade holiday gifts on my train commute, I just might decide to do a little more typing.

December 23, 2014

LiL Christmas Column

by at 12:55 pm.

Full disclosure – in light of the Sun’s relinquishing of their Christmas Column crown, I asked a number of people for their ideas on what to give local notable folks for Christmas this year. This is what they came up with. A few are mine. If they are horrible and nasty, I claim nothing. Thanks to contributors Ken, Len, Barry, Denny, and Grinch! Couldn’t have done it without you.

For Rita Mercier – valium for her long flight to Cambodia, and snow on the manger for Christmas Eve.

Bill Martin – a return to his Sacred Heart roots.

Rodney Elliott – A stone wall to block any FOIA requests about how much vacation time he actually took at the EPA this last year, versus what he had banked.

Bill Samaras – A higher than 10th place finish in the next election, and some natural memory supplements so he can remember names.

John Leahy – a chance to redo his vote for mayor.

Corey Belanger – some actual, breathing patrons for his wicked shitty bah. More softball questions from the administration to ask the administration. Five golden vests.

Ed Kennedy – Quarters for the copier machine and the pay phone at Cappy’s.

Dan Rourke – A ticket to get off the “Tipa” train and to become a real boy.

Jim Milinazzo – Vanilla.

Kevin Murphy – What can you get a guy who will be receiving 80% of $180K for the rest of his life?

Mike McGovern – A lawnmower so he can maintain his own lawn.

Celene Gettings – Penmenship award for the hundreds of citations she’s written, and a one-year discount on ribbon from Michael’s.

Mike Geary – A starring role in a new reality TV show called, “The Mayor Whisperer.”

Conor Baldwin – An abacus and some tea leaves for when Bob Healy retires for real.

Jim Leary – A majority vote.

Steve Gendron – An introduction to the “young turk” Steve Gendron.

Dave Conway – Two tin cans and a string connected to Paul Georges, and the next mayor’s aide appointment.

Kim Scott – Fair hiring practices in the School Dept and beyond.

Connie Martin – BOGO for life

Kristin Ross-Sitcawich – To not be reappointed to the Housing Authority board. What a headache!

Dave Nangle – An E-ZPass for his commute between Seabrook NH and Beacon Hill.

Rady Mom – A crash course in finance from Tom Moses.

Golden – A conductor’s hat for the Tipa train.

WCAP Salvation Army Fund – Donations that don’t come from a politician’s campaign account.

Dave Daly – Immunity from any scrutiny by the Ethics Commission for being a chair of the Mayah’s reelection campaign while simultaneously suing the city over the methadone clinic.

Ray Boutin – Some time in a hot attic, a lifelong membership in Pi Lambda Phi, and a first class ticket on the Tipa train.

Bob Gignac - A few more jobs squeezed out of the tight budget at LHS for his friends.

Dick Howe – The banning of the term “blogfather.”

Gerry Nutter – Spell check, a pair of blockquotes, an editor, and lifetime membership to the Kool Kids club.

JMac and the Bear – Some relevancy.

WCAP – For the Lowell Five to forgive Sam’s debt so the signal doesn’t go down.

Anthes & McDonough – Separate checks and free refills on soda.

Ted Panos – A real Facebook account under his own name so he can stop trolling as his family business.

Campanini and Kendall Wallace – For Kendall to finally purchase the Sun so Campi can retire with the Wine Goddess and John Cox. For Kendall – for his bid to buy the Sun, as much leeway from a lending institution as Sam Poulton’s had.

The Sun Staff – Institutional memory so they can write next year’s Christmas Column.

October 4, 2014

Open Studios Weekend! And, What’s Playing at Luna?

by at 10:42 am.

I meant to post this last week but…well you know.

Anyway, heading out in a little bit for Open Studios weekend, 12-5 both Sat and Sun, a great time to see a lot of great arts and crafts (and BUY some! Start your holiday shopping, guys!).

Of note:

Mill No 5 is holding a special A Little Bazaar, “Wrong Brain,” which is a collaboration with an arts group out of the seacoast of New Hampshire. As noted on the Facebook page, “A Marketplace of Strange, Unconventional, Underground, and Alternative Goods!” Definitely on my must-do list today.

I’m also going to hit ALL and the ALL gallery as well. (Facebook page here.) Probably Appleton Mills, as well, just to see how they are doing.

I might even get active on my @leftinlowell Twitter account with pic and notes, so keep an eye out!


Also, last night was date night with the Mr., ending with a Luna show after a nice meal (and excellent drinks) at Tremonte. It was good because I was having a kind of rotten day (nothing specific, just little things) so the fact that we had great places to eat out and a great venue to see a movie was a real pick-me-up. We saw Magic in the Moonlight, a Woody Allen movie with Colin Firth and Emma Stone. The acting was great, but Stone totally shone the brightest. It’s a 1920s character study, about a skeptic and a purported psychic he’s trying to debunk. Great dialog (it’s Woody Allen after all). The trailer:

There’s a 5:05 showing tonight (perfectly timed for the end of today’s Open Studio hours!) and one tomorrow (Sunday) at 2:35.

Life After Beth also looks fun. If you are into romantic comedy zombie movies this is your flick! It’s playing this weekend and beyond (fitting, since Halloween is coming up). Since I’m a huge fan of Shawn of the Dead…well, I might have to go see it some time. :)

And finally, of course, at 10:05 tonight, the phenomenon which is the Rocky Horror Picture Show will be showing at Luna! I’ve never quite gotten into the cult aspect of this, but people love it and have a lot of fun with it. I can certainly respect that level of geekdom, so if it’s your thing, tonight’s your chance!

Luna’s got their full calendar for October up, and there are a bunch more movies on the list so go check them out!

September 24, 2014

South Lowell/ Sacred Heart neighborhood group news

by at 8:20 pm.

School Committee Member Kim Duggan Scott posted on the Facebook Group Lowell Live Feed a summary of the South Lowell/ Sacred Heart neighborhood group meeting last Monday. Be sure to check the link to read the comments too.

The newly-organized South Lowell/ Sacred Heart neighborhood group met on Monday, September 15th at Primitive Methodist Church, 1193 Lawrence Street, in the heart of the neighborhood. A special thank you is extended to Reverend Allen for sharing the church space with the community.

A number of varied items were on the agenda. But we began the evening with Public Safety.
(more…)

September 23, 2014

Le Vieux Théâtre, Renaître

by at 10:36 pm.

 photo 2818f001-c0c8-4b78-b9c1-1ede80491ce1_zps1dc8f758.jpgThis weekend Lowell obtained a gem of a new old treasure. Although I could not make the opening this past weekend, I was already in love with Mill No 5’s new Luna Theatre. (Damn my cousin for being born this weekend which put a priority on visiting her mom at the hospital! Kidding…mostly.)

I got a second chance tonight though with a free, MRT-sponsored, cohosted by Lowell Film Collaborative showing of Julie Mallozzi’s 2004 local documentary, Monkey Dance. Yep, love at first sight as I walked down the hall and saw the big illuminated Luna sign! I had seen the pictures from this weekend, and the work-in-progress (I knew about the armchairs), but the experience is something else.

I hadn’t been able to make any previous showing of the documentary (shamefully), which follows three second-gen Cambodian teens who struggle with growing up, making choices, all in the context of trying to learn about their culture and being a part of the Angkor Dance Troupe (another thing I can’t say enough good things about). The movie was great, and afterwards we got to ask questions of the three teens, now young adults, from the movie. All of whom have moved back to Lowell after college, and all of whom are involved in one way or another with the troupe and with making a positive impact in Lowell. The MRT ran this screening, with another one next week of Still I Strive, because of their current stage production of Year Zero, a “comedic drama” about a Cambodian-American teen.

Phew! That was a mouthful of links to find. :) The event itself was great, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it was the atmosphere of the theatre itself which was the most exciting.

Now, I’m not the biggest movie buff…I like them, of course, but I’m more of a novel type of girl. Don’t ask me about my book collection - visible and invisible (on the Kindle). It’s not small, and moving is always a chore. But I adore the Lowell Film Collaborative and Suzzanne and Brett (and baby now of course!) and it’s so great that the Luna has given them a place to call home. And I love their enthusiasm for movies. :)

Mill No 5 is already just darned awesome, with its “Little Bazaar” events (if you haven’t gone to one, you have to go…next one is Saturday, Oct 4th), brand new coffee house Coffee and Cotton - from which I tried my first kombucha, a trendy drink which swept the west coast and has apparently landed in Lowell. Despite its weird description, it was pretty good. I don’t really go in for the health benefit claims (I’m always skeptical about that), but I’m all for classing up Lowell, so there you go. Also, it meant supporting this fab new coffee shop so, even better!

But the Luna Theatre really caps MN5, and makes it…well, THE COOLEST PLACE IN LOWELL. Hands down. No contest. Yes, I love the Brush and the Whistler House and MRT and ALL and downtown. But y’all just got bumped down a notch.

There is of course fresh made popcorn, soda, and candy for sale. (And, at reasonable prices I might add, not like the big box movie theatres). The vintage, glowing signage, the red armchairs and little side tables, the beautiful wood floors all polished and finished grandly…the whole thing works in concert to transform you into another era. If that doesn’t do it, the classic animated movie intros (buy Orange Crush!) or other commercials from your childhood will do it.

Luna also showed some of its Coming Attractions, and the movie selection is really cool…I very much want to catch Finding Vivian Maier, and Frank seems really fun and quirky. You might recognize the movie Snowpiercer. They run movies Thursday through Sunday, which surprised me - they have quite the ambitious schedule!

So even though I am not the biggest movie buff out there, I have to say, Luna Theatre might convert me. Access to independent movie-house films on a regular basis…is something Lowell greatly lacked. In fact, most communities lack it, unless you live in Boston or Cambridge. Lowell is lucky to have Luna…so let’s make sure Luna is successful beyond its wildest dreams.

Le vieux théâtre, renaître…the old theatre, reborn. Step back in time with some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

July 28, 2014

The Best and the…Brightest?

by at 6:05 pm.

Let me be the first to say that my expectations of Kevin Murphy as City Manager were pretty low. I just knew too much about how these people (GOBs) operate to be that optimistic. However, I would have been ecstatic to be wrong…because I care more about the city than I do about being right. Saying “I told you so” here is sort of a Pyrrhic victory.

So, it is with some sadness that I say…I told you so. The parade of hangers on, losers of the last round of CM administrative decisions, and general all around insider hacks has been…if not like the Merrimack in a warm wet spring after a bad winter, maybe like the Concord in the same season.

Case in point: the admission this past week that Kevin Murphy didn’t bother to interview people for two prominent positions. Just read the title of that Column post: “Hirings of Murphy’s friends no surprise.”

McGovern will serve as assistant city manager, and Coughlin was hired as deputy director of the Department of Planning and Development. They will both make $87,000 and start Friday.

Murphy admits he did not actively search for any others to fill those two roles, as both positions were posted for a short time period and Murphy did not conduct any interviews.

Murphy said it would have been “a charade” to conduct interviews, but he posted the positions to comply with city requirements.

Yeah I’ll say this whole thing is a fucking charade. I can’t believe he’s being this blatant about it…though I suppose I ought to thank him for that. (By the way, by “short time period” they mean five days total.)

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE???

Never mind that I have heard from people who have had interface with, for instance, McGovern, who KMurph has hired to “market the city” in his new ACM position, who was the PR guy for the Greater Lowell Tech, and who failed miserably to push out news, especially positive stories, from the school…even when people were begging for it.

Never mind that apparently, there might have been some awesomely qualified people who put their names in for DPD deputy, or if they did not, it was because they knew the fix was in. People who would have been amazing at the DPD job. Never mind that the guy who got the DPD job is seriously lacking ACTUAL EXPERIENCE - especially compared to the potential interested parties! But hey, he’s a Friend of Kevin!

Being a Lowell citizen right now is like being severely bipolar. On the one hand, this weekend’s Folk Fest was amazing and I felt like it was wrapping its fascinating, diverse, and lively arms around me, and then you see this shit and wish you could sink into the ground from embarrassment. Damn, Kevin, are you a buzzkill.

Bagjob doesn’t even begin to describe this crap. It really doesn’t.

July 25, 2014

Petulance Is Not Leadership

by at 6:18 am.

I know I’m just getting to this and it’s Friday, and I haven’t blogged much lately, and everything I want to write will make me sound like a broken record…because we have that kind of City Council…but I wanted to highlight one of the many violations of logic that our Council seems hell bent on committing.

This past Tuesday, one agenda item - a vote from the CM’s portion of the agenda, ” Vote-Authorize School Dept proceed under MGL c.30B for the lease of property for School Administration Offices” - provoked a long commentary from Belanger that defied sanity. Never mind that he’s in direct conflict of interest on this matter, since he’s hoping that maybe the relocated school dept employees eat in his ethnically-confused dive bar. But his hypocrisy was breathtaking. He was complaining (during a long, repetitive rant) because the school dept is also going to take one of the empty storefronts for their year-round parent interfacing office.

Wasn’t it this same city councilor who drove the push (I would say, unwisely tying the hands of the SD) to insist that the RFP for this relocation heavily favor a downtown location? Again, with the appearance of self interest, which I find blatant and gross (Franky D never did this crap when she was a Councilor). Wasn’t it he who, with his overly long speeches on the matter, made it clear that downtown was the only place acceptable to him?

Well he got his wish. The downtown location was chosen. Then on top of this, he’s been ranting about downtown vacancies (like this is a new thing) and closing businesses left and right? I get that we don’t want to fill dowtown with 100% nonprofit and government offices in its street level retail spaces. But for heaven’s sake, it’s not like a retail business trying to start downtown would find a dearth of spaces for rent.

I also find it ironic that, when it’s convenient or in his self interest, he’s fine with trying to find a way for the council to interfere with private business (the landlord, in this case). Oy.



Let’s Talk About Rules

Rules. Let’s pitch ‘em please. The number of times Rita suspended the rules for one reason or another on Tuesday night, it appears we don’t need them. And, can someone please, please tell me how it is the City Council can take a vote to support Arthur T Demoulas after a citizen petition in front of the council without an agenda item? I thought that was against the rules too. What should have happened (and correct me if I’m wrong please) is they should have put it on the agenda for two weeks from Tuesday. Do they think no one might want to speak on the issue given fair warning under Open Meeting Laws?

Now given the situation and its fluidity (the Market Basket board meets today) I suppose you could argue it was one of those “emergency responses” which is the end-around the OML. But was it? Was it really?

July 12, 2014

More About What Fire Victims Need

by at 9:15 am.

I stopped by Wish Project yesterday (as did some others) and we’re hearing that what is really needed is clothing for slight-framed men - sized 30 or 32 pants. Of course, women’s and children’s clothing (infant to teen) also welcome, as well as toys, non-perishable food and household goods.

One thing I brought yesterday were cheap rubbermaid bins. Think about it: these families will get a lot of goods from the Wish Project and other organizations, but where will they store them? If you have extra bins kicking around, or want to buy them (I got a couple for $9 each at a local dept store) bring them, especially if they are solid colored (not clear plastic), with lids. This will help protect the privacy of the families as they use the bins to move their goods around.

Another thing I thought of…hangers. Lots of them will be needed, again, because these families will be set up in hotels, then in apartments, and given clothing they will need to hang. Bring hangers!

Eventually, and pretty soon at that, these families will need pots, pans, kitchen utensils and other cooking and kitchen implements. The Wish Project also mentioned they were in need of small kitchen appliances - toasters and coffee makers etc. If you have extra, working counter appliances in your home that are sitting in your basement doing nothing, bring them in!

And of course, right now Wish Project is asking for food items these displaced residents can eat without a fridge or stove, as they will be in hotels for now. The list from the Wish Project (PDF) is a good place to start. I just wandered the food isles looking for stuff kids would want to eat, microwavable meals, snacks, and drinks they could keep without refrigeration and packed my cart full of store-brand items.

If you could find microwavable rice I’m certain that would be much appreciated, given many of the victims are Cambodian and rice is a staple food, as mentioned in this article.

There will be a fundraiser on Sunday in the Glory Buddhist Temple on Cambridge Street at 5:30 p.m. The Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association also has a GoFundMe page for survivors, and you can also donate to the Branch Street Fire Victims Relief Fund, at any branch of the Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, or send money to the bank at P.O. Box 1238, Lowell, MA 01853.

I’m certain the Wish Project, CTI or other organizations could use some help from volunteers, especially the Wish Project as a lot of donations are coming in and need to be sorted. I bet they’d be tickled if you brought them pizza and drinks today to help feed the volunteers that are there today. You can call them to see what they are in need of or to check if something you have is something they take: 978-441-9474.

Please pipe up in comments with any more news or information. Thanks!

July 10, 2014

UPDATED: Horrific Lowell Fire - Info On How To Help

by at 11:28 am.

I’d posted a Facebook thread on Lowell Live Feed this morning, and people have been filling in information about where and how to donate money, clothing, and other goods to the survivors of the fire which claimed seven lives, three of them children, on the corner of Branch St and Queen St in the early hours this morning. I wanted to put all of that into one post for people to refer to. Most of this has been gathered from Twitter where people were covering the press conference this morning.

A fund has been set up for monetary donations:
Branch Street Fire Victims Relief Fund
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union
P.O. Box 1238
Lowell, MA 01853

UPDATE: The Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association has also set up a GoFundMe page.

Today, the Red Cross is collecting clothing and food donations for the victims at the Senior Center where they are staging their operations. However, that might be overwhelmed pretty quickly, so you can also wait until tomorrow and donate such things to the Wish Project, along with any other goods on their list, such as furniture, bedding, and home goods. I suspect home goods and clothing will be top of the list for needs in the short term. The Wish Project says: “Not sure if we can take it? We reserve the right of refusal, so please call at 978-441-9474 or email us at info@thewishproject.org to make sure it will be accepted.” So be sure to take a careful look at the list so as not to bring things they cannot take. The Wish Project address is 1A Foundry St. in Lowell.

UPDATE: The Wish Project has a web page specifically listing the needs of the Branch Street fire victims. Worth a look.

[UPDATE] FOOD ITEMS: The Wish Project has a way for you to donate food boxes to the recently-homeless fire victims. There is going to be a huge need for immediate food items that can be consumed without the use of a kitchen or fridge. Via the MV End Homelessness blog.

I am not sure where personal items can be donated, such as toothbrushes and other personal hygiene products, but I’ll update when I find out. Over 40 people were displaced with this fire so the demand will be great. [UPDATE]: see link to Wish Project’s web page listing immediate needs.

Also, there was mention of a fundraiser at the Buddhist temple on Cambridge this Sunday, with details TBA. I’ll update when I know more.

Add what you know in comments, please, and I’ll update.

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