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The “HEY! LOOK AT ME!!!!!” crowd is about to embark on a full blown grandstanding jamboree, I’m told. Gerry Nutter got wind of it and now it’s blowing my way, too. We are in for a motion from Councilor Elliott, in the near future, proposing that a charter change be put on the ballot. You can count on Councilor Ditto to second Elliott’s offering.
There is some history to this effort. From 1993:
(h/t Dick Howe, Jr.)
Question 2 - Do you support a change in the city charter to provide for an elected mayor as chief executive instead of an appointed city manager? Yes-10,0441. No-6,760.
That question was put on a city election ballot, as a non-binding resolution. But, it never went any further because after 5 Council incumbents were displaced, the appetite for upheaval diminished. (Funny how that works? Huh?)
Also, another question, that year, showed only a slight edge towards a desire to rid Lowell of Plan E.
Question 1 - Do you support keeping the present Plan E form of government? Yes-8,234. No-8,779.
Should anyone assert that Lowell, circa 1993, has any sort of ‘mandate,’ they should take a few data points into account. (more…)
Gerry Nutter is sorta tough, today. On C.Elliott, who Gerry calls a ‘Sun Flower.” How did Gerry come up with that handle?
… any current Councilor or challenger who hears City Councilor Elliot state he is the only one who hasn’t voted to raise taxes should point out to voters at every opportunity he is the ONLY Councilor to vote against repairing the schools that our children attend and voted against spending money to repair the streets having voted against the Capital Improvement plan presented this past week.
Unlike Councilor Elliot, I attended the joint City Council / School Committee tour of the schools last year and was appalled to find broken and unusable restrooms, broken water bubblers, doors and windows so drafty that students had to wear coats in class and holes and rust in shower stalls.
Some of these schools haven’t been painted in 30 years since I was a student. Look at how many of our streets have potholes and broken sidewalks and ask Councilor Elliot why our kids and neighbors don’t deserve to have the same attention paid to these buildings the way he’s paid so much attention to the Lowell Housing Authority buildings in the past term. He has no jurisdiction or control over those and yet he votes against fixing the buildings our kids attend, buildings he can have an effect on.
The taxpayers deserve clean safe and maintained schools just as he has stated he believes the residents of public housing have a right to those same conditions where they live.
So why has he voted against spending to fix up our schools for our kids?
Someone should also ask him if he supports the outrages past practices that allowed uncapped buyback of unused sick and vacation time for city employees and teachers. This Administration working with the Unions have made huge compromises to CAP this benefit and yet Elliot has constantly voted against these contracts.
Challengers and fellow Councilors cannot allow him to paint himself as a defender of the taxpayer when he has a voting record that shows he is against maintaining / repairing the school buildings our kids attend, paving our streets and capping buybacks which benefits all the citizens of Lowell.
C.Elliott fancies himself as a ‘fiscal watchdog.’ So much so, that he grandstands at every opportunity to crusade against any sort of raise in tax or fee. So, he is not so much a fiscal watch dog, as he is a “Grover Norquist wannabe.” Being fiscally prudent is not to hold a hard line on taxes or fees. It is taking fiscal health into account, in a more ‘holistic’ sense. Unfortunately, it is hard to pander to the fiscally obtuse using complex concepts. “NO!” is two letters and one syllable. Makes for neat bumper stickers.
The folks encamped along the river have been scattered.
On Wednesday evening, I got a call from Paul Belley. He was at his part time gig, at a local packy, and needed some help making calls. He had already left voice mail messages for City Manager Lynch, Councilor Lorrey and CTI’s Kristin Ross Sitcawich, and he needed me to make some calls to local shelters.
Apparently, the local authorities had made good on their promise to evict the homeless squatters living along the river. Unfortunately, efforts to find these people an alternative arrangement had fallen short. Paul told me of three Lowellians that had come by to let him know they were trying to resettle. Some were faring better than others.
One woman, who has a tragic history of being battered, had just stopped by, asking Paul if he knew of a place she could stay. Paul told her he would make some calls and that she should return to the store, later. The woman bought a pint of vodka, but never came back that night.
Regardless, Paul made calls and so did I.
From what I can gather, this stuff is hard. Of the 7 numbers that I could Google up, only 3 actually dealt with housing people. The others were like referral agencies for various services. The woman at House of Hope was very kind, but their shelter was geared towards families. The on duty case worker at the Lowell Transitional Center was not that gentle, but would shelter the woman, provided she could pass a drug screen and a breath-a-lyzer.
When I called Paul back to report what I found out, we collectively sank as we knew it was unlikely that anything could be done that drizzly night. The only positive we could find was that we knew these folks were rugged and that it wasn’t February.
I talked to Paul, yesterday, and he got return calls from some of those he left VM for. All sorts of wonderful promises to do the best that could be done. But, these authorities are IN the system. The homeless folks are OUT of it. We have a clash of cultures and there is little trust.
What doesn’t make any sense was the rush to move these people out? Why not approach it incrementally? Find arrangements for the “low hanging fruit,” first. Those willing to come back in. Then, like in the case of the battered woman, provide sequenced outreach to build a level of trust, allowing for best fit services to be secured. Finally, for the hardened homeless, take a stronger position and do the eviction.
What I saw unfold was a rush to brush these folks away, trying to stuff them into the ready made services that were handy.
But hey, Hillary Clinton screwed up on Benghazi and Bernie Lynch is going to crush the local catering business all by his lonesome, right? Let’s focus on political kabuki, while in the shadows our neighbours creep. Out of sight. Out of mind.
We tried. They wouldn’t cooperate. We did the best we could.
And, now, they are scattered.
Update: See for yourselves.
The jokes write themselves. Did you know the city once had a zoo at Fort Hill? You can read about it on Jen Myer’s blog.
It’s filled with tidbits like this:
Two weeks later another 5-year-old Buck was rescued from the Western Canal by 17-year-old Raymond Donovan of Middlesex Street, treated by Dr. Harold N. Eames for “frozen ears,” treated to “a few shots of good whiskey” and taken to the zoo.
Tonight, as the Council contorts itself to defend the integrity of The Belvidere, please consider something. Who remembers this episode?
LOWELL CITY COUNCIL
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 25, 2012
CITY HALL, CITY COUNCIL CHAMBER
TIME 6:30 PM
GENERAL PUBLIC HEARINGS (Scheduled for 7PM)
9. Ordinance-Amend zoning (Westview Road)
I’m going to quickly paste in a bunch of info, so you can judge for yourself whether the City Council is plague by an integrity problem. Maybe, because of national politics, we have become immune to ‘flip-flopping?’
I know in the larger picture this issue which I am about to discuss is not as important as some other problems but it is a quality of life issue. I look at it as a version of the broken window theory.
I am grateful for the Parks Department for posting this sign. I assume that it is not unique to this fence and can be found at all public parks not just at the one where I snapped this picture.
It is evident that Lowell’s dog population is slowly increasing. I do not have hard numbers to support my observation since many dog owners do not officially register their pet with the City but I consider myself a good observer of life in our city. How do I know that their dogs are not registered? I look at the collar.
I am not a dog owner but I have many, many friends who are so please do not attack me as an anti-dog person. I have nothing against dogs except that we have some irresponsible dog owners and we also have some inconsiderate dog owners.
Again, nothing against dogs, some of my best friends have dogs. As a matter of fact, the Lowell blogsphere is dominated by dog lovers. It is the irresponsible dog owners who have to be policed that I am addressing.
So it was with interest that I read, City Manager Bernie Lynch tweet that the City is looking for a non-dog owner to join the Animal Advisory Board. This is not the first time that the Manager has put out the call for volunteers for this position, apparently no one is answering it. I had seriously considered applying but honestly I think with this current CC, I may get the Samkhan Khoeun* treatment. Then my epitaph would read “Here lays a woman who could not even get elected to advise the dog catcher.”
Have you noticed the trend of owning two dogs? There are the mother and child combination (dogs of the same breed, one fully grown and the other a puppy; there are the twins ( I do not know if there are siblings but the two dogs are the same breed and about the same age; and then there is the random two dogs that you have rescued (i.e. Lynne) or purchased. I do see a lot of people walking two dogs. Last Saturday, I was walking behind a woman who had two different size dogs and as she was approaching a utility pole, the two animals decided that one would go left of the pole and the other one right of the pole. Needless to say, there was a traffic jam on the sidewalk.
Just today, I was driving north on Lawrence Street, I saw a woman at the small park located right after Moore Street. She had a very large dog and no bag in her hands. While the dog was doing his business, she was busy socializing on the phone. This park has a very large sign that reads “DOGS NOT ALLOWED.” It is a relatiely small park but there is a lot of kids that play there. Can anyone be more inconsiderate?
If they cannot properly take care of their dog, maybe they should get a cat or better yet a gold fish.
This motion will get fast tracked to subcommittee, where it will wallow.
This graph compares total voter turnout to C. Elliott’s support, for the last 6 City elections. What would happen, if this November the turnout went up to 12,000?
Tis the season! The campaign for city office season, I mean.
For those of you who are not familiar with Stacie Hargis, she’s someone you will see at coordinated campaign offices doing the hard work of campaigning, on the boards of local organizations like COOL, or (formerly) working for US Rep. Niki Tsongas. I’m pretty excited to see what she will do in her campaign.
I captured as best I could her speech tonight at her kickoff at Cobblestones:
I started blogging in the late Summer of 2007 during the NH Democratic Primary season. For the entire Primary, I blogged under a pseudonym, Sleeping Giant Stirs, as it was common to do so. By November, my face and name was well known in the circle of activists that participate with the various campaigns, but I didn’t openly blog as Jack Mitchell, until after the January 2008 primary election.
By 2009, I was active locally. Many of the campaigning tools I learned, as a volunteer in NH, I tried to apply to the local elections. It went well, in 2009; but even better in 2011.
Locally, there are two areas where I tend to dabble: ground game & communications. By ‘ground game,’ I mean contacting a specific subset of residents and encouraging them to vote. In the area of ‘communications,’ my principle focus has been undermining the slanted narratives of the Blog of Record and challenging the yarns they spin around the few politicians that Campi, et al, wish to fluff.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard those cowed by, what some call, the “Legacy Media;” endeavor to diminish the import and influence of Lowell’s vibrant blogscape. Frequently, I hear pols say, “I don’t read the blogs.” Others will down play by blurting, “How many people even read those blogs?”
The answer is … enough.
“… a consensus has formed that blogging is increasing in influence. Farrell and Drezner acknowledge that “A key reason they are important is that journalists and opinion leaders are readers of blogs.” …
… the appeal of blogs to media and political elites has had an impact much larger than the modest size of blog readership might suggest. In fact, “the important question in terms of political communication may not be how many, but who.” She writes that political blogs may “have effects that are quite disproportionate to the absolute numbers of participants because journalists, elected officials, and other influential elites are consuming them. …”
Just recently, a friendly member of the local ‘legacy media’ keenly noted that ‘certain news’ just won’t make it out into the light, because influential people will punish ‘professional’ news outlets by withholding ad revenue and access to their ‘realm.’ If ‘Legacy Media’ is beholden to these folks to put bread on the table, you can bet certain things are kept, intentionally, on the down low.
Or, as is glaringly obvious with the Lowell Sun, what is eventually reported is rigged to cast a kind spin for their allies, while conjuring hassles for their foes.
I won’t lie. I do the same thing, for free. I’ll have an ‘objectivity arm wrestle’ with the Blog of Record, anytime, anywhere.
Greg Page coined the phrase, Home Run Derby.
After a recent Council meeting in which there were a series of emotional speeches preceding what would clearly be a 9-0 vote, I was searching for a term for these sorts of things, and settled on “Home Run Derby.” Why?
Because everyone can get up, take their cuts for the fence in Barry Bonds-ahead-of-the-count-and-nothing-to-lose fashion, while the pitches are coming in straight to the wheelhouse and no one is playing defense.
Last night’s City Council meeting met the criteria for a ‘Home Run Derby’ and then some. Unfortunately, we need a new phrase for the ‘and then some.’ What do we call it, or should call it, when a Councilor jumps in front of a moving band wagon, in the hopes of taking credit for the soon to come achievement.
Let’s focus, now, because this is EXACTLY what C.Kennedy is doing with the motion he directed at the License Commission. (more…)
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