Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
I went to the city council meeting in person tonight - standing room only! Well, I did get a seat in the upper level in the very corner, with a good view of the chambers. I took notes (and it’s a lot harder to take notes while there let me tell you) and will clean them up and post them tomorrow, but I have a few things I wanted to say tonight.
First, I will rant (like that’s unusual). The city failed for the first time since they stared putting the agendas online to get tonight’s agenda into the website before the meeting. This is annoying. Luckily a friendly face gave me a paper copy, but I had to spend spare time at the beginning typing. So I just want to say, please, please, please keep up with that useful service.
I also wanted to say that Dick Howe had a great point in his address to the chambers that there were not enough candidates running for city council this year, and that we need to convince young people to get involved. He said that our civic duty does not end when we go to the ballot box. Thank you Mr. Howe, for that. You will be sorely missed!
And speaking of public engagement, the bridge issue was peripherally brought up because the ad-hoc subcommittee met on the subject. Bud Caulfield commented that he feels strongly that the University Ave bridge realignment would increase the quality of life for those in the Acre and Pawtucketville, and it would streamline traffic to the Connector. Huh? All I could think while taking my notes was, “What city does he drive in?” Has anyone except myself tried to come from out of downtown, or off of the two-way part of Merrimack, onto Dutton, and been bottlenecked for like, five light cycles all the way down Dutton? Increasing the traffic down two-way Merrimack from University Ave is not going to streamline traffic; if anything, it’s going to make the whole situation worse. Right now, coming off University, your best bet to downtown is Father Morressey Blvd to Arcand or beyond. Hitch Merrimack to University, and people will start funneling down Merrimack, only to have the same issues that already exist except worse. And of course the more parking garages we get down there, the more traffic, until Merrimack/Dutton has been Drum Hillized. Have I mentioned how much I hate Drum Hill?
As I was driving home, I took Merrimack, and was sad looking at the Mission Church and thinking that it might be coming down.
Finally, I just got a kick out of this incident at the end of the meeting. After Howe left, the crowd thinned to…oh…say, me, one other person whom I know, and a couple guys standing around. So it was kinda obvious that I was there taking notes, with my laptop typing away, sitting behind Councilor Elliot. So I received my first snide comment about my opinionated writing from Rita Mercier after the meeting adjorned: “Oh, so you’re the one who said on the website that no councilors should be reelected except Jim Milinazzo. Thanks a lot.” (This last sentence ending on a rather sarcastic tone.) (By the way I also was amused by Bud Caulfield who was intensely interested to know who I was until I told him I wasn’t from like, the Globe or anything, but was a blogger. I’m not even sure he knew what that meant.)
Well, I never pretended that I wanted, needed, or courted access to the halls of power in Lowell! The city needs people to observe and say the things that are unpopular - something Councilor Dick Howe knows very well. And it is not without reason. After all, if when the Sun writes about a major new bridge proposal which appears to be a done deal, and most of the city councilors know less than the Sun apparently does, that should raise red flags with them. That they were incurious to find out more back when the CBA called and asked them about it is even more disturbing. If the councilors want to clear the air on any issues, they are free to leave a comment like any other person here on this blog, or hey! start one of their own. Wouldn’t that be cool? More conversation with your elected officials. What a concept. If you wanna get more young people into politics, time to open up the access points of power and let some light - and people - in.
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