Left In Lowell

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March 17, 2012

I’m With Gerry: There IS No Controversy

by at 9:13 pm.

Bet you never thought I’d write that, did you? :) But he’s correct - the outrage over the firing of the Mayor’s assistant, Diane Bujnowski, particularly from Bud and Rita, is just not warranted. (Surprise, the Budrita outrage machine is overwrought again.)

First, as Gerry notes, prior to Diane, it was actually very unusual to keep a Mayor’s aid on past the term of the mayor who hired them. The fact that Diane has been around this long is an anomaly, not the norm.

The Sun article never mentions that BEFORE Bujnowski it was a tradition for the Mayor to hire his /her own aide but when you have a cub reporter covering City Hall who was only 8 or 9 and growing up in the people’s republic of Cambridge when Bujnowski started, he may NOT know the history.

Of course, we can’t expect a reporter to do any research so they can put an article into context instead of using yet another non-controversy to whack Mayor Murphy (and as always, by extension, CM Lynch) over the head. *rolls eyes*

Secondarily, I must respond to the outrage in comments on both Topix at the Sun and Gerry’s blog, to those who are angry he “blindsided” Diane: as I noted both on Topix (not yet moderated through) and on Gerry’s blog (also not moderated yet as I just posted it) - hell, let me just quote myself on his blog, it’s easier (with further edits in brackets):

You NEVER give an employee two weeks’ notice. EVER.

You would be taking the chance that that employee, disgruntled and still able to access their email, servers, and the physical location, would cause the employer damage, like changing passwords they have ultimate access for or other things.

You ALWAYS blindside someone even if it’s just a downsizing or layoff that has nothing [bad] to do with the employee in question. You pull them into your office, tell them they are being laid off/fired, and then they get escorted to their desk to clear it out and then escorted out of the building (after giving any keys, access cards, etc to security). I’ve been on the receiving end of a layoff in the past, and it wasn’t even a contentious situation, and this was what I faced. It sucked hard, and I was unhappy about it seeming like I wasn’t trusted, but in retrospect (I was young then) it made sense.

And hence the fact that in the article linked, the woman has all sorts of quotes about being blindsided and told things were fine and how it was a slap in the face, well, that’s how it feels, even in normal layoffs and such. [I was hurt when I was laid off all of a sudden, too.] OF COURSE Lyle would be able to get such quotes from her, [when her feelings are raw and she feels terrible…which of course fuels] controversy, and giving Bud and Rita plenty of ammo. I’m shocked, shocked that the Sun would make hay with this. Not.

Hell, if I were Murphy, I’d worry a little bit about her cozy relationship with past mayors who have anti-Murphy/anti-Lynch agendas. Maybe she’s trustworthy, but maybe not, or maybe Murphy couldn’t make a clear determination of her trustworthiness. Things have been leaked [in the past] from City Hall to damage someone else’s tribe, after all.

And yes, I am starting to use Jack’s terminology sometimes. It’s handy. :)

By the way, you should note that the news of her replacement has been broken (by, let’s face it, a real reporter) - Jen Myers on Twitter.

Yeah, that’s right. It’s recent returning vet, local blogger, and outstanding all around awesome guy Greg Page. Let’s see Bud and Rita complain about that. And it’s just awesome, anyway. Congrats Greg! (Careful, you might have jumped from the frying pan and into the fire!) Good luck and I know you will rock in the role.

******

Speaking of hirings and firings, I might as well take this moment to mention that I have, myself, been hired for an actual 9-to-5 with a commute (to NH no less, hold your sarcasm please, I know, I know) which, while it should mean “not as much blogging from me,” really just means, carry on as usual, since I’ve been pretty scarce ’round these parts lately. But it bears mentioning anyway. I started last week, so I am limited in my access during the week.

Edit: My comment about trustworthiness is total speculation and NOT meant as an affront to the employee in question. I don’t know her from Adam and from all accounts everyone liked her. But even inadvertently, a relationship with a past mayor, even innocent, could pose a problem in today’s environment of fake outrage and knee-jerk anti-Lynch sentiment from certain quarters. Like Budrita.

23 Responses to “I’m With Gerry: There IS No Controversy”

  1. Joe S. Says:

    This position was always “at will”, and still many successful people passed through that office. Somehow it is now thought of as a “life position”, which brings experience, but not much innovative work. Time to move on, and the new selection is a wise choice.

  2. Jack Says:

    The reality is that reality doesn’t matter. The city will fracture. Most Lowellians will go, unphased by the drama and high dungeon of this episode.

    The bubble will split. Some will strategically position themselves to be an understanding friend to all the aggrieved parties. They feel, equally, the pain.

    Some will rally to the Mayor. They will trust that this action is intended to further the betterment of operations in the Mayor’s office, and thus every following Mayor. Count me, here.

    Some will use the former aide, as a pawn in their game. She will be run up the flag pole. Declared victim of some malicious, heartless conspiracy. Every imagined personal slight will be conjured. A sense of high dungeon will be concocted to raise outrage. The torches and pitchforks will be borne. All headed towards that uppity Mayor and his evil schemeing master, Bernie Lynch.

    The leaders of this mob will be the usual suspects. No surprises. This is not a new episode. It will be a rehashing of the same tired episode, dressed up with the facade of new names.

    The bubble is heartless. There is red meat on the floor.

    Lowell goes on.

  3. Jack Says:

    Right Side Of Lowell hits a high note: The Mayor’s New Aide

  4. sleuth Says:

    Irony, thy name is blog.
    Replace “Patrick Murphy” with “John Cox” and everyone would be screaming about the GOB Network.

  5. Lowell Resident Says:

    Seriously sleuth? As frustrated as I can get with some things written here on leftinlowell, I will say this, you guys are always better than some of your lame haters. If you can’t see the difference between hiring for lack of a better term, a friend, to a professional city management team and a basically political appointment position, then I dont know what to say. Try again with your false equivalencies because this one doesn’t work.

  6. Lynne Says:

    No, because I actually look at things logically and on its merit.

    This outrage has no merit. Not even a modicum. It’s manufactured precisely because the tribe of people in question can’t stand being out of power, even though they did it to themselves.

    Does Budrita even know just how ridiculous they come across to the rest of us?

  7. Renee Says:

    Agree’d

    No matter how awkward or tense her termination is, there would be even more awkward and tense moments if she remained in that position. I believe she did nothing wrong and no one is disagreeing that she would be a great addition in another position as an aide to a local elected official or local agency, Unfortunately it would be hard for ANYONE to maintain an equal measured amount of loyalty to a new mayor, after serving other mayors who either still sit on council or are still active in city politics.

  8. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Lynne I have to disagree with your statement:
    “You NEVER give an employee two weeks’ notice. EVER.

    You would be taking the chance that that employee, disgruntled and still able to access their email, servers, and the physical location, would cause the employer damage, like changing passwords they have ultimate access for or other things.”

    Professionals do NOT do those things! I too have been called into the office and shown the door, but I have also been given the opportunity to continue working until my replacement was up to speed. If an employer shows someone the door and escorts them out of the building then it means their replacement is ready, or they are not completely trusted.

    The ONLY criticizm of Mayor Murphy that I would have in this instance, IF the Sun was accurate (and that is a big IF) is that IF Mayor PM assured her on three different occasions that she would not be loosing her job then her firing was tacky.

    I too remember when a mayor brought their own aide into the office with them, of course institutional memory is one more thing severely lacking at the daily newsletter these days.

  9. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Ok Eleanor, play it out. You give her two weeks (or more) in the context that is Lowell. You know, where Rodney, or Rita, or Bud can take as much umbrage as the ink will allow on the paper blog. Where the chattering class gets to linger on the topic as there are new quotes from those concerned and other ‘people say’ quotes that drag out for weeks now. Can such a transition really be anything anyone could call ‘efficient’?

  10. Jack Says:

    Well ER, we have blogs for what the Blog of Record lacks.

    The Mayor’s Secretary through the years
    by DickH

    RSOL: The Mayor’s New Aide

    Gerry Nutter: Mayor Murphy bringing back Tradition of selecting own Mayoral Aide

  11. Lynne Says:

    Sure, there are companies that don’t do the immediate termination thing, but they are few and far between in my experience. And getting rarer. You might have 99% of the work force who is professional and who would not do such things, but that 1% can really hurt your business/work environment. It’s the *smart* thing to do.

    And let’s be clear, this article was written by Lyle Moran so we know it’s crap to begin with, and we only have quotes from Diane to go on. It’s possible she’s remembering wrong. It’s possible that in being pained by this experience she’s not being precise or fair in her anger. It might even be possible she’s lying, either on purpose or just by exaggeration. Because she ran out and cried to the Lowell Sun, I have to take her comments with a HUGE grain of salt, especially given who interviewed her, someone who is *looking* for something controversial or who will make it up out of whole cloth.

    She’s feeding an agenda by going to the Lowell Sun, and that makes this whole thing mildly suspect.

    It’s also quite clear she’s good at burning bridges. *I* wouldn’t hire her now. She went public with her gripes the day she was laid off. Think that’s a good trait in a potential employee? Especially in the public sector should she want another aid job? It reminds me of Supt. Chris Scott - another former employee the Sun managed to exploit and egg on to burn her bridges.

    Maybe the Sun is more at fault here for the egging, maybe she’s happy to do it. Whatever reason, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth and is quite easily accessible through Google searches in the future. It was a pretty bad career move IMHO.

  12. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Perhaps you know more about the circumstances around this story than I know. I don’t know that Diane went running to the Sun, if it is in the story I missed it. The Sun certainly could have gotten wind of this story from any number of sources.

    As for transitioning to a new aide if she had stayed? It seems to me that PM had a replacement lined up which is one of the reasons I cited for getting rid of a professional immediately but your point about the whinners on the CC is taken, they would have made the new person’s life a living hell and still might.

    As I pointed out, the accuracy of the Sun’s story as written is a BIG IF!

    Professionals do not burn bridges and that is noted by future employers.

  13. Lynne Says:

    Whether she went running to it, or agreed to be their pawn because they came to her, it’s the same to me. I think it’s highly likely they exploited her, right at the moment she was most hurt by the circumstances, and the Sun is full of vultures frankly (with notable exceptions), but it certainly won’t help her in her future career, that’s for sure. It really was a bad move and in the end, the quotes she handed the Sun are things she has to take responsibility for.

  14. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Agreed, she made a big mistake in making those comments to the Sun. She should have taken the high road and moved on. People behind the scenes would know what happened.

  15. Jack Says:

    People behind the scenes would know what happened.

    In the broadest sense, I don’t like the feel of this idea. That the Bubble will know, but the general public would not.

    We need the Sun to do a job. To be part of the checks and balances. If a wrong was done, it should come out, not just bounce around in the bubble. However, there is no wrong here.

    We have a fabricated controversy. We have life events wedge into a scripted templete, designed by a political faction, aided and abetted by the Sun, enflamed by pols driven to get quoted in the blog of record.

    The Sun does not report. The Sun plays games.

  16. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    By “people behind the scenes would know what happened” I was implying that by taking the High Road she would still be able to use good references built up in her time at City Hall and a future employer would hear only good professional things about her, now all they have to do is Google her and read the story in the Sun, that story is not to her advantage.

  17. GSR Says:

    What the heck are you talking about Jack? Who and What is the “bubble”? You sound ridiculous.

    The Mayor is heartless. I haven’t heard one person say it wasn’t within his rights to hire his own assistant. Just because he had the right doesn’t mean he handled it right. It’s a diversionary tactic from the real issue which is how he handled it. A tactic the Mayor had tried to use throughout this controversy unsuccessfully.

    Diane is not a pawn. If she had accepted how she was treated as fair or went along like the lemming you suggest she be this dicussion wouldn’t be taking place. She felt she was treated disrespectfully by the Mayor and others have come to her defense. You’re cheapening her position in this by saying others are using her. So I guess Diane manufactured this? That is just the height of hypocrisy. This Mayor has lied about taking the stipend. Lied about taking the health insurance. Lied about keeping Diane on as his Aide. Yet we are to assume he’s telling the truth and Diane is lying. If this were anyone other than Murphy you’d be on Diane’s side. She was treated poorly by a man with no conscience. He assured her on three separate occasions that her job was safe. That was just wrong on so many levels. He “yes”ed her to death and then stabbed her in the back. Totally unprofessional, tactless, and downright cold.

    “It’s possible she’s remembering wrong.” Apparently not since the Mayor acknowledged on WCAP that he told her she was safe on multiple occasions.

    All he had to do was be honest and tell her right up front he wanted his own person. Everyone would have understood that. But he was incapable of it and created this mess himself. Stop blaming everyone else for something he brought on himself.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Jack and company: You like the mayor? Me, too. I met him during the campaign and was impressed. But I am capable thinking beyond the binary (Murphy, Lynch good; Sun, Campanini, evil). I look and right and wrong, not left and right, and the mayor is wrong here. Patronage in the name of good government is still patronage.

  19. Jack Says:

    Yes, ER, throwing bombs is messy business.

    @GSR I have noticed several monikers associated to your IP address. They aren’t mixed together, like different people using a WiFi hotspot in a coffeee shop. They are bunched in groups, like someone shifting their ID, so they can’t be associated to previous opinions. Odd.

    Anyways, I’m not going down the rabbit hole of credibility with you. I know and trust Patrick Murphy. I trust his parents when they write, as posted on the Blog of Record:

    “We were disappointed to read the Sun’s portrayal of Mayor Patrick Murphy’s choice to hire a new assistant. We want to clarify that we were not in contact with Ms. Bujnowski at all, and that particularly, we were not assisting her in planning any birthday party for our son. This was incorrectly reported. Moreover, it seems this error was purposely used to unfairly portray the event in a certain light.”

    Certainly, Lowellians will have to sort out what they think is fact from fiction. We can’t expect to get straight reporting from the Sun. They use two sources that are married together when verifying.

    You post from behind a mask, so hurl invective to your hearts content. I use my name. So, I opt not to accuse folks I barely know. I don’t print all that I hear, as it may not be true.

    I wish the former aide smooth sailing. I think others, like you, could really care less how she ends up. I’m entitled to my opinion, I’m told.

  20. Jack Says:

    @Anonymous 1st - Stick to a handle or you won’t be posted. 2nd)

    Patronage has its defenders. It is a way to maintain a strong political organization by offering campaign workers rewards. More importantly, patronage puts people into government who agree with the political agenda of the victor. Cooperation, loyalty, and trust flow from this arrangement. Finally, patronage guarantees some turnover, bringing new people and new ideas into the system.

    Opponents have long agreed that patronage is acceptable at the highest levels of government. Presidents, governors, and mayors are entitled to select their cabinet and department heads. However, history indicates that patronage systems extending far down the organizational chain are susceptible to inefficiency and corruption.

  21. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Who and What is the “bubble”?

    Hmmm.. pretty good question. Where is the bubble? [looks around]

    The Mayor is heartless.

    [pointing] There it is. :)

  22. Sleuth Says:

    Jack:
    Apologies for posting as “anonymous.” My fingers ran ahead of my brain. I must practice what I preach.

    I do not understand how hiring people “who agree with the political agenda of the victor” will lead to “new ideas coming into the system.” I would argue it leads to groupthink that excludes independent thought and new ideas.

  23. Jack Says:

    No worries, Sleuth. I’ve done the same on other blogs.

    Greg and I are friends. It might make you feel easier to know that his personal e-mail “signature” is this: “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” — General George S. Patton

    I think the problem with these sorts of episodes, is that tribal alliances cause folks to launch early. Being skeptical of Greg is fine. It comes with the territory. Maybe not you, but others will be overly nasty. There is no need for that.

    Go ahead and vet Greg. Test the conditions of his hire, if you must. I just shudder to see him and his predecessor dragged through the muck for sport.

    I feel certain lines of questioning are within bounds. You want to question patronage hiring. I think that is fair. As long as we look at it in the context of the practice. As that practice is allowed for, here in Lowell.

    To isolate the current Mayor and aide. To question this pair out of the historical context is biased, imho.

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