Left In Lowell

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June 21, 2012

Not In The Front Seat, Kennedy’s In The Rumble Seat

by at 12:50 pm.

I think it is a hoot, watching C.Kennedy try to “out Dick Howe, Sr.” C.Elliott. At first, I figured Elliott had the advantage. Clearly, it is a jump ball.

Meanwhile, City Councilor Ed Kennedy expressed frustration Wednesday that he was not notified about the suspension of McNeely when Lynch called Monday night to inform councilors of Carney’s termination.

Kennedy said this is not the first time Lynch has not provided all councilors with the same information.

“The city manager should deal with all city councilors on an equal basis, not doling out certain information to some councilors and not others,” Kennedy said. “It should not matter whether you are a councilor that is more supportive of the manager or not. This is becoming a trend for a manager who prides himself on communication.”
-snip

It’s not easy being the “anti-manager.” No one will run, ‘cepting Fred Doyle, against this manager. Kennedy sure didn’t. Though, I spotted Kennedy as being against Lynch, early on. It was his body language in the candidate forums. Anyways, now Kennedy can start to build a justification for being at odds with Lynch. He is laying a crumbtrail and the Blog of Record is more then happy to archive every crumb.

Further, if you are trying to BE “Dick Howe, Sr,” you can’t just try to look like you are walking in his shoes. The man had integrity. It was the intangible things that made him so popular among the voters. To have “bravado” without integrity and character, is to walk crooked in those shoes.

June 20, 2012

SeeClickFix

by at 1:44 pm.

I missed this posting on the CM’s blog from June 11 (June has been an awfully busy month for us), but the City launched its participation in a mobile app/Facebook app/website interface that allows citizens who see something, like dumped furniture or a pothole, or a dangerous sidewalk, and use their mobile smartphone to report it. That’s freaking awesome. I know I am not the only person addicted to her (beautiful shiny new Evo 4G LTE) smartphone. I take it with me on walks, often because I use apps along the way (like a walk/run tracker, and my streaming music) or so I don’t miss phone calls.

Super convenient. Already downloaded and ready to go. It works across all the common platforms (Android, Blackberry, and the dreaded evil iPhone). It includes the option to take a picture of the offending crack in the sidewalk as you report it, and you can put yourself on a “watch” list for your neighborhood (you know, if you’re one of those nosy neighbor types!) to get alerts for things reported in the area.

For this initial rollout, the City of Lowell is using SeeClickFix for issues and concerns that can be addressed by several departments. This includes issues with streets, lights, trash, drainage, debris collection, graffiti removal, fallen trees, illegal dumping and more.

No brainer.

More Impact, New Neighborhood

by at 1:34 pm.

The city is launching its fourth Neighborhood Impact Initiative, focusing on the West Acre and East Pawtucketville neighborhoods simultaneously. (A great idea!) These areas have “similar urban densities, a strong connection via the Textile Memorial Bridge and a growing university presence on both sides of the river,” so I applaud the city for thinking outside of neighborhood “boxes” to approach this latest neighborhood initiative holistically.

Details at the above link on the CM’s blog. Looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

For those who have benefited from the previous initiatives, what did you experience? I’d like to know what you think of this program now that we’ve seen a few years of it.

(Via Paul Marion on Facebook.)

June 19, 2012

Campi Rants At “Old Lowell” on Facebook

by at 5:54 pm.

Apparently when the Editor of the Blog of Record wants to let it all hang out, y’know shirk the limitations of the dead tree rag, he goes to his official Sun - Facebook page. Is it me, or is Campi looking too much like a whirling dervish or what, as of late?

Check out this tidbit:

Photobucket

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June 18, 2012

Open Thread: Sticks & Stones Edition

by at 10:06 am.

Update: Here is the final day of budget hearings - City Council / Budget Hearing 4
….

Well, we have moved on from the drama of the budget hearings to the drama of the “Great Parking Garage Robbery.” There was even a perfect segue on Saturday, as the Council got to fluff it’s feathers and strut it’s stuff without missing a beat. Rarely does such opportunity come, where our electeds get to be so “large and in-charge.”

It was interesting to see C.Lorrey pop his head up, like he did. In less than one news cycle he picked the LPD’s OT budget’s pocket (I support that cut, btw) and came up with the scoop on the parking whistleblower. This makes me nervous, but I’m the nervous type. Ever the affable guy, Lorrey may not be able to shuck and grin his way through such political mayhem. The long knives are being palmed, hidden from view. This is not a good time to be “Johnny on the spot.” Anyone who has ever seen Goodfellas knows, it is your friends that come for you. They come with smiles.

A friend called this morning asking if I had watched the City Life show. I only caught the last hour. Apparently, I was knocked around by my pals because they figured I would not blog about the “Great Parking Garage Robbery.” The gist was that I would not do anything that may upset the CM. I’m going on hearsay on this. Later, I’ll listen to the show on LTC. Getting my facts straight is helpful. For now, I’ll just jump out in front on this with little direct knowledge. That’s what George and John do, fair is fair.

Oddly, my thoughts on the news, so far, matches Cliff Krieger’s. He wrote a thoughtful diary: The Big Parking Ticket

In some way this incident asks the larger question of if our system is working for us or against us?

If we had just let the company deal with it we would have gotten our money back, avoided additional costs as taxpayers and maybe even found a man who straightened out his life. Then again, maybe he was destined for perdition.

It is just that I would have preferred avoiding the instant outrage and asking some questions. I would have liked some “out of the box” thinking before throwing the book at the perp.

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June 15, 2012

Kabuki Budget II - The Chamber of Tries

by at 7:56 am.

Update: City Council / Budget Hearing 3

Please start of by reading Gerry Nutter’s diary about last night. I don’t agree with his summation of the evening, but he does well laying out the nuts and bolts of the transactions.

Generally, I think the City Manager put forward a good budget. If my taxes go up 2-3 bucks a month, so be it. I’ll give the money, but my expectation is for greater value. If we are funding more summer recreational programs, make the most of it. If we are investing in capital improvement, don’t buy bandaids for buildings. Fix them, properly, so we don’t make the same repairs again in 3-5 years. Ensure the Lowell Stat program impresses it’s critics.

So, it makes sense to me if a majority cohort of Councilors; Broderick, Lorrey, Martin, Murphy & Nuon, effectively support the CM’s budget. They are seeing a “bang for the buck.”

With the CM’s budget buffered by the majority, four Councilors were presented a golden opportunity to “get caught trying.” Meaning, they were appealing to a specific voting block that wanted to see a 0% tax increase. To be fair, the majority of the Council was, imo, also playing politics. The votes to protect overtime and raises is done with election day votes in mind. YES! The city workers are due raises and just about any cop would rather have more OT, than a couple new cops on the force. That is obvious, in my eyes. It is also a smart political play to affirm that in the budget.

Let me hit a few points:

- Sup’t Lavallee made a great point. When cops are called in to work, they are due a 4 hour minimum. If they are on duty and their shift is extended, then it is done on an hourly basis. The Sup’t stated that it is more efficient to use OT around shift changes. This comes into play in the downtown when the bars close, for example.

- C.Elliott deserves some props. In the past, he attempted across the board cuts. In doing so, he was criticized for not seeking specific cuts. This budget cycle, he has been very specific. Not sure why he is honing in on what he has, like cost of living adjustments for workers, but he has responded to his critics in a thoughtful way. There is political gain in his tact. There is also, peril. He played his cards by his own rules. I don’t agree with his positions, but he has stuck his neck out.

- C.Mendonca stated early on, that he would seek to trim the budget. To know Joe is to understand his votes, last night. He is fiscally conservative. He is not a poser. That was clear when, having proposed and supported cuts throughout the night, he did not support the whack at the snow and ice budget. He knew it was merely kicking the can down the road. That is not a sound fiscal practice.

- Props to C.Broderick for walking back the talking points spouted by C.Elliott & C.Kennedy. You’d think the economy was on the verge of collapse or that City Hall was operated by nitwits, if you sucked up the rhetoric of Elliott and Kennedy. Broderick calmly explained the logic or legal footing for the proposal at hand. He did not gloss over or cheerlead the manager’s budget. He just presented a cool, matter of fact validation. C.Martin gets honorable mention here. Martin didn’t step in often, but when he did …. . Or, as one observer put it, “Billy brought his club.”

All in all, we are seeing how they make the sausage. For the mouth breathers that want to shrink government, so they can drown it in a bathtub, details are unrewarding. For those of us that feel government is our imperfect approach to propelling all of us forward, together; seeing the beatiful imperfections is compelling.

Or, as Cliff Krieger says, “There is no free lunch.”

June 12, 2012

Kabuki Budget Quick Notes

by at 10:56 pm.

Update: City Budget Hearing 1 & City Council / Budget Hearing 2 (Budget hearing begins at 2:07:30)

This note is for those that watched the budget hearing tonight, or will watch the video later. It’s late so I’m hitting a few quick points.

- Apparently MA Dept. of Revenue has given the CM some wiggle room in line item transfers and spending over budget. One law conflicts with another, so a reasonable person can do the right thing. Yes, “reasonable” is a subjective thing. I think the CM is. Imagine my surprise when, while riding C.Elliott coattails, C.Kennedy questioned the CM’s practices. It was C.Kennedy who, when opining on the need to comply with the law over lowering flags to half mast, quipped something to the effect,’sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.” (I’ll find the link later.)

- The remaining hacks in City Hall hate the work of the “data dink.” Imagine having to meet goals at your job. Please note which councilors peppered the GRANT FUNDED Jr. Analyst position.

- We have councilors that think city workers can live on $39K/year. If a single mother with 3 kids worked for the city at $39K, she would be eligible for assistance under the SNAP program. Do we pay workers to scratch out a living? Sad thing is, this mindset goes back to the old school when a guy could make good money, self employed at a trade. He’d get his wife a crap job with good bennies, aka city hall. The pay was nice, but it was really the bennies they were after. But, those days are over. Workers, husband and wives, both need living wages. Does Lowell want hacks in city hall, working for the bennies? Or, indentured servants? Or, do we want to fairly compensate these workers and demand efficiency from them (using data driven performance metrics?). An honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work?

- The contempt shown in that room, by several Councilors, towards city workers tonight was staggering. DON’T HIRE LOWELLIANS, Mr. Manager. Chunks of the Council will get tossed out, next election, if you do.

Music Hits the Streets

by at 9:25 am.

Buckers in downtown Lowell this summer…Howl has the scoop:

Downtown Lowell’s Busk Stops will be marked with signs and placed in areas with heavy foot traffic, including Market, Central, Merrimack and Middle streets.

Jacobson says Busk Stops should be in full swing for the launch of Fresh Air Friday, beginning the first Friday in July.

[…]

The stops will be active seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the exception of the Folk Festival during the last weekend of July, when the busk stops will be on hold due to other festival happenings.

Keen. Hope I get a chance to enjoy this! After June, which is a hellish month for me, maybe I will. :)

June 11, 2012

Flag Retirement Ceremony - June 16th, 10AM

by at 5:10 pm.

Flag Retirement Service And Ceremony

GWVFlagRetirement2012

Thank you to all that attended last year. Please come again and bring some folks along. For those that missed it, Dick Howe wrote up a diary with a couple of pics to give a taste of that special morning.

The formal event will take less than an hour, but the process of retiring the flags will go on for those that wish to hang out.

June 10, 2012

If Lynch Bails, Could C.Kennedy Ascend?

by at 12:29 pm.

The Blog of Record rehashes an implausible scenario. Despite direct quotes from Kevin Broderick and Bill Martin, calling shenanigans, the Column still opts to perpetuate a myth. Maybe the coffee at the Owl Diner tastes better with the sickly sweetness of bubble gossip?
(bold mine)

CITY MANAGER Bernie Lynch’s contract does not expire until July 2014, but there is already chatter that some of his supporters on the City Council will move to extend it in the coming months.

Councilors Kevin Broderick and Bill Martin, Lynch’s two biggest boosters, are said to be behind the extension push, which could come after the budget is passed.

A five-year extension is being considered, according to several sources.

Both Broderick and Martin told The Column they don’t know about any such discussions and have not been part of them if they exist.

“You are the first person to mention that topic to me,” Broderick told a Sun reporter on Friday. “Bernie has never hinted or mentioned or asked about it.”

Martin also dismissed the extension chatter.

“At some point as his contract winds down, there will be talk about renewing it,” Martin said. “It is premature right now to talk about that.”

Does it strike you as odd, that the Dead Tree Watercooler puts the anonymous comments of sources and observers on an equal footing of “on the record” statements from 2 respected city councilors? I find it odd.
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