Left In Lowell

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July 27, 2012

Light In The Lobby

by at 10:01 am.

Yes, the process over filling a vacant seat at GLTHS is a bit shady. Let there be light? I’m intrigued.

Mayor Patrick Murphy, who also chairs the School Committee, said he was approached by Krieger, Boutin, Montoya and Hogan about their interest in the seat. Murphy said if Lenzi resigns, he would like to have an interview process for the candidates.

“When the time does come, if it does come, there ought to be a clear process in place so that it doesn’t just become the people who lobby the hardest get the most votes,” said Murphy.

“We’ll get a better sense of what people’s vision is for that school and what their background is. It’s fairer for the public and it’s not just a backroom lobbying deal,”he added.

I envision a process very similar to the last phase of the last Lowell Public Schools Superintendent search process. The “finalists” will be interviewed in the Council Chamber by those with voting authority, which is the combined membership of the City Council and School Committee. This would happen under the public eye, with LTC present. The final vote and choice would be informed by the process.

The premise rests on a fundamental principle of Mayor Murphy, performance based governance. The candidates would be judged on tangible policy points and presentation. It would be merit based. It’s a “job interview.” We get it.

But, …

Murphy is inventing this process, as he goes. As much as I welcome the concept, I can’t escape some crude facts.

1) What compels any of the voting members to participate? Surely some will instinctively share the Mayor’s zeal for a more transparent process. Yet, others will be wary of setting a formula that they may wish not to follow in the future. Or, worse, they might just wish to piss in the Mayor’s coffee, by refusing to participate, enlisting petty politics to inflict political damage to the Mayor.

2) What compels any of the candidates to participate? Assume the above aggregate of points to apply here. No doubt, the candidates SHOULD be willing to submit themselves to public scrutiny. They, after all, enter this process with their hats in their hands. A hint of defiance would be deleterious to their appointment. This is not the License Commission they seek to inhabit.

Ultimately, participating in such a process would not be binding. Should the Mayor get a solid majority of participation, then those thumbing their nose will look bad. Looking bad will not stop those that seek to flex their independence by refusing to play nice with others. For sure they will chortle that, “Taxpayers have spoken to them on the street and in the grocery store.” They will conjure a silent majority in the vapor of plausible deniability. That will be the crooked peg on which their hat will hang.

And one last thing about transparency. For those of you that followed the last Lowell Public Schools Superintendent search process; once Jay Lang was thrown under the bus, who actually believed anybody BUT Jean Franco was going to get the job? Folks, inside baseball hides in plain sight.

3 Responses to “Light In The Lobby”

  1. Lynne Says:

    In some way, since it’s an appointment by vote etc, I am guessing the body in question (joint SC/CC) can decide however it wants to in how to approach this…unless there’s something specific governing this in muni law.

  2. JC Says:

    The cycle must be broken!

    I’d have the candidates submit to public questioning, walk on red hot coals, or endure trial by ordeal…in short - do whatever it takes - if it would lead to a legitimate result: the appointment of a person of competence & integrity who will not seek favors or derive untoward benefits from such an appointment.

  3. Magnolia Says:

    The whole thing is a crock. But I agree with JC. If you want a public office, then you need to put up with the public scutiny just like the candidates do in a real election.

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