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I’ve been gathering my thoughts for some time about this post. But one thing is for sure - this is an anti-endorsement for Michael Hayden for Greater Lowell Tech. School Committee. I seriously recommend NOT ticking off his name come November 3rd. In fact, I beg you, do not let this man get reelected.
For those who have not followed this race much, there are two seats open for the Tech School Committee. There is only one challenger - Fred Bahou - and the two incumbents, Hayden, and George O’Hare, running for these seats. I have issues with O’Hare as well…but have many more with Hayden.
I will start you off with this website (Michael Hayden’s). Go ahead, read at least the first page of it, then come back. I suspect you will see instantly why I think this man should be no where near our kids’ educational institutions of any kind. (If you haven’t seen the site before, you aren’t alone - it is virtually invisible to Google due to the poor way in which it was built. I only found it recently.)
Anyone who is that obsessed with “illegal immigration” is bad news in my book. This is a man who is willing to punish innocent children for choices they didn’t make, not to mention the tone and tenor of racism in general in his angry rhetoric. This is a man to whom diversity is a curse not a benefit to our city, and with all the children of immigrants in our city, he is a very poor choice indeed to represent them, or us, in administering the tech high school.
I can’t tell you just how much that website chills me. It alone would warrant an anti-endorsement.
Further evidence of racism, perhaps even more direct, is that while a Committee member, Hayden wanted to take down all the safety signs that are in Spanish at the school. You know, the ones that direct kids where to go in case of fire, exits, etc. Apparently his attitude is that you should speak English, or maybe die in a fire. I don’t know. All I know is, every finger points to racism. This is illegal and was not done, but is very illustrative.
However, there is another major issue in the tech school committee race, one which the Lowell Sun has written about but I think it needs to be reiterated: the issue of the apparent Good Ol’ Boyism in microcosm that is the Voke’s governing body. This is an issue I have with both O’Hare and Hayden. Did you know that neither O’Hare nor Hayden can vote on the teacher contracts of the school for which they are supposed to be on the Committee? They both have relatives working at the Voke. That in and of itself isn’t enough to damn, of course, but here’s the kicker: the 2005 contract negotiated for the Superintendent, James Cassin, gave him - this is insane - an automatic 5.25% raise per year, with and additional merit raise per year bringing him up to a possible 9.5% raise a year, plus a $10,000 annuity. He started at $112,000 in 2005, and this year reached the dizzying height of $181,835. Here is the Google cashed Sun article on the issue.
To compare, Superintendent Chris Scott, who oversees the entire Lowell school system including the city’s high school, gets $170,000, and did not take her raise this year. Cassin, of course, did.
Not only that, but I have talked with some people at the school, and there is deep unhappiness with the direction, tone, and results from Cassin’s administration. I heard the terms “bad work environment” more than once. Cassin went from being a teacher to being a superintendent, with no school administration experience whatsoever.
So here’s where the speculation comes in…Cassin gets a choice contract. Cassin then hires or has hired family members of several Committee members. Said Committee members can no longer vote on the teachers contracts, but can still vote to give Cassin his merit raise. Sounds like a situation rife for GOB behavior. There is a serious appearance of impropriety.
The good news is that there is a challenger in this race, and one whom we’ve had the pleasure of endorsing in the past. I happily endorse Fred Bahou for the Greater Lowell Vocational School Committee (you can listen to my Bahou interview here) and I will also vote for George O’Hare.
Because, as it was pointed out to me, a bullet vote for Bahou might mean Hayden gets the second seat, and that is absolutely unacceptable.
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