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Left In Lowell » 2012 » September

Left In Lowell

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September 30, 2012

Murphy’s Law as defined by Paper

by at 8:38 am.

Today’s Sun Column leads off with a piece on City Council vote on the 219 Westview Road re-zoning. I am assuming this portion of the “inside political news” was partially or completely written by the editor, Jim Campanini. He is credited as one of the contributors in this week’s edition.

“The City Council’s defeat ….left Lowell Developer David Daly disappointed but by Friday he said he was most frustrated by the roles two like-named Lowell politicians played.”

And the two elected officials are State Rep. Kevin Murphy and Mayor Patrick Murphy; no relations to each other. First of all, isn’t it convenient that the two have been targeted in the past by the paper?
Lately, not as much for the former and for the latter, almost daily.

But let’s review the charges against the two:

State Rep. Murphy: “Daily believes Murphy and his brother Gary Murphy helped convince the club (Mt. Pleasant Golf Club) oppose the rezoning because Murphy wanted to curry favor with voters in his district, which includes Westview Road.”

Is the inference that State Rep. Murphy does not have the support of that neighborhood so he has to “curry favor”? Really? Is there an upcoming challenger in that legislative district that is planning to run against Murphy in 2 years and because of his/her stand on issues will win the hearts and minds of that neighborhood over Murphy? Because if there isn’t the charge that State Rep. Murphy did this for vote is politically naïve and ludicrous. Also if he had decided to stay home last Tuesday, would the Westview neighbors stop supporting him? I do not think so.

Now to the comments about Mayor Murphy:

“The mayor did not show any courage to speak to the reasons he was opposed. It was a cowardly vote.”

There are a lot of adjectives you can attribute to Mayor Murphy but coward is not one of them. This is a guy who has taken on the Sun, Bill Taupier and CC Rita Mercier, all within a month. He is figuratively and literally a fighter. Some people may not like the fights he gets involved in but no one can say that he is afraid to express his views and willing to go to the mat for his beliefs.

From the beginning of the public discussion on this project, the Sun has been leading the public relations campaign; both with articles and an editorial. I am not sure of the motivation but I am going to guess the project consultant’s relationship with the editor may have played a part.

Frankly, I think Mr. Daly’s opinions were used by the paper to prop up their views on the two Murphys. But I do agree with Mr. Daly that “The issue became so much about politics rather than what was best for the city.” But he should have added “inside” politics with the paper as one of the players.

September 29, 2012

Mill City Grows…Community

by at 7:19 pm.

Today I took my newly coiffed hair (some old friends didn’t recognize me, I don’t tend to post self-portraits on Facebook) and my min pin to the Mill City Grows Harvest Festival. Since its Back Central location isn’t far from where I live, it was hard to think of an excuse not to.

I’m really glad I did, because I was pretty amazed at what they’ve accomplished in its first year. Using the synergy in the City Manager’s neighborhood initiative as well as the know-how and talent of its founders, Mill City Grows took a blighted park area, where nightly criminal activity plagued police and residents alike, and turned it into a space where area residents - most without growing space of their own - could pay a reasonable $15 per plot to have a space to grow…well, whatever they want.

One comment from Assistant CM DPD head Adam Baacke, was to remark that what was amazing about the project was how much it created and grew a sense of community. (That’s paraphrased, he was way more eloquent.) It also is attractive to our many immigrant communities, who left home gardens and farms behind when they came to our city. Besides the garden plots, renewal of community use of the space, and elimination of the blight and hence most criminal activity, Mill City Grows has also brought in bright and colorful artwork ringing the inside of the secure fencing in the garden area. Many of the raised beds sported signs and decorations of their own.

Despite the morning mist and gray skies (though no rain fell at the festival itself), the turnout was high and the cheerfulness of the crowd was palpable. I was amazed to find a lot of the people involved in the project were friends of mine. Even though I’ve heard bits and pieces all summer about this project, it could be the best kept secret this last summer in Lowell.

What’s even better is MCG is going to bring this model and idea to other areas of the city - Centralville, the Acre, and the Lower Highlands - there being a scheduled vision session and site cleanup coming up on October 20th for the latter.

EDIT: more at Room 50! With better pictures. :D

Some pics I took today (also shared on Facebook and Twitter): (after the flip) (more…)

The Santa Clause

by at 8:52 am.

The Blog of Record informs us that Meehan and Pangy had a pow-wow. What did they speak of?:

Political insiders, however, speculated the political titans talked about Panagiotakos’ future: Specifically him becoming city manager.
As City Manager Bernie Lynch continues to be roughed up, Panagiotakos has said privately that he would indeed consider the job, but he doesn’t want to be viewed as pushing Lynch out.
Panagiotakos is everyones’ pol, and he relishes that. If he became city manager, however, starting on the first day he would lose some of that charm appeal and it would only get worse as time marches onward. That’s why not everyone is buying into Panagiotakos’ alleged interest.
Speaking of interest, Panagiotakos was vehement: he doesn’t have any.”Maybe five or six years from now, but not now.” He repeated it several times.

Why not now? Give me a sec, to think of a euphemism. … (more…)

September 28, 2012

Support Niki at the Debate

by at 11:45 am.


Concord-Carlisle High School
500 Walden Street, Concord, MA 01742

Sunday, September 30th
12:3o PM Visibility
2:00PM Debate

This Sunday Niki will debate her opponent for the first time in 2012. Join us at 12:30PM for a stand-out to show support for Niki. Head inside at 2:00PM to watch the hour-long debate and ask a question.

Email liz@nikitsongas.com to let us know that you are attending. See you there!

Brown Will Be Defeated and Scorched …

by at 11:09 am.

by his own hand.

New Year 2010, the shit had hit the fan for the Coakley campaign. Scott Brown was taking off and Democrats at local, state and national levels were piling into MA to try to stop it. Locally, we were making calls, person to person,to try to stir up Dems to go vote. Another tactic employed, frankly, overemployed, was robocalls. These taped messages were coming in from prominent Democrats, like Bill Clinton, to try to spur Dems to go vote in the special election. When I would talk to folks on the phone, I got yelled at for all the calls being done. But, worst of all, the robocalls were despised.

Since, Scott Brown doesn’t have that much organic support, he is a creature of the special interest fabricated “Tea Party,” there aren’t enough motivated Brown supporters to make person to person calls on his behalf. Enter Karl Rove and the robocalls. Thanks to the Mother Jones Blog:

TRANSCRIPT: Today, you can change your future by voting against Elizabeth Warren. A vote for Warren is a vote for the same type of government failures that got us into the situation we are currently in. Warren supports President Obama’s health-care takeover that will cut over $700 billion from Medicare spending. The health-care law backed by Warren could limit the availability of care seniors depend on from the Medicare program they paid for. Vote no on Elizabeth Warren for Senate this November. Paid for by Crossroads GPS.

This robocall was recorded here in Lowell, just a few days ago:


September 27, 2012

So Long, Amaral, and Thanks for All the Fish!

by at 7:51 am.

Jen Myers has a post outlining the accomplishments of the departing Kendra Amaral, Deputy Director at DPD in charge of Development Services (formerly Inspectional Services).

Violation notices were issued, but never pursued; the plumbing and gas inspector was sleeping on the job, working a second job on city time, and forging inspection records; health, fire prevention and building inspectors rarely communicated.

Welcome to the City of Lowell Inspectional Services Department circa 2009. […]

Amaral may be leaving Lowell City Hall, but her legacy will live on for years to come. In two years the culture and operations of the Development Services office has improved dramatically. […]

No longer do violation notices get tossed in a drawer with no follow-up – cases are seen through to resolution. Some are taken to court. Back violations, some going back five or 10 years have been resolved.

For the first time in its history, the city began attaching liens to properties with outstanding fines, resulting in the collection of more than $100,000.

Go read the whole post. Amazing to think where we were, and how far we’ve come. Thanks Kendra! Best of luck on your future endeavors.

September 25, 2012

There’s a YouTube For That (Updated)

by at 9:27 pm.

Lots of stuff being written all over the internets this week on “Backfire” Brown’s doubling-down on his tired, months-old Native American tirade. Today of course saw the debut of BMG’s explosive video of tomahawking, war-whooping Scott Brown Senate staffers. In case you’re living under a rock and haven’t seen.

(Side note: wonder how Rita Mercier’s feeling about her endorsement right about now…)

There’s a new Charlie Pierce piece post-video. Always a fun read.

There’s also a Boston.com article from Garrett Quinn outlining just how little the average voter is biting the bait Scott Brown is selling.

Polls show voters are aware of the scandal but it has had little impact on their vote.

But the weirdest one is that Scott Brown, who presumably has access to the internet and his own debate performance, is denying he questioned Warren’s ethnicity.

But whatever Warren’s ancestry, Boston reporters and others expressed surprise that Brown claimed to discern a person’s lineage just by looking at her.

Yet when asked about his Native American-detection abilities at a press conference Tuesday, Brown denied ever having made the statement about Warren. Watch the video above and decide for yourself.

Brown, in his own words from the debate:

And as you know, I think you’re referring to is the fact that Professor Warren claimed she is a Native American, a person of color, and you can see she’s not.

Right now, I am hard-pressed to decide whose campaign is imploding faster, Mitt Romney’s, or his buddy Scott Brown’s.

Update: Drip drip drip…Brian McGrory weighs in too:

Go ahead and stick a fork in the image — or, more ­accurately, the illusion — of Scott Brown as the affable everyman, the consummate good guy who folds laundry before pointing his pickup toward the docks to shoot the breeze with his fishermen friends.


It may not be a strategy. It’s probably just who he is. When things went well, when he glided into the Senate on the wings of a short campaign and a hapless opponent, Scott Brown was as charming as they come.

But as the polls turn and the specter looms of being a former somebody, Brown is a different man, a lesser one, a frat house bully spewing sophomoric lines like “Can you imagine 100 Professor Warrens down there” while trying to reheat leftover ­attacks.

How Brown Will Lose

by at 4:25 pm.

Map graphics come from the Boston Globe. URLs are provided.

This one is from 2008 and shows Obama leaving McCain in his dust. The thing to remember about this election is it had the highest Lowell turnout (31,905) since 1992 (32,984).



September 24, 2012

Whack-a-Mole, Where the Moles Are Braindead

by at 8:24 pm.

Another day, another bizarre, fact-free attack on Elizabeth Warren. This one from conservative bloggers and their mindslaves. I don’t know if it originally came from the Brown campaign itself, though given its history, and its Rovian campaign manager Jim Barnett, and expensive consultant Eric “CrazyKhazei” Fehrnstrom, it would not really surprise me.

The basics? Brown surrogates are trying to insinuate that Warren was unlicensed or fraudulent when representing Travelers Insurance before the Supreme Court (the same case they are trying to use to attack her as somehow pro-corporate, despite the facts actually being quite the opposite).

Except, it’s all so empty an attack, that within hours, it was being debunked.

Tribe adds that Warren fully met all of the Supreme Court’s requirements for filing briefs and petitions with that court.

“This was not and could not be a violation of any Massachusetts rule,” Tribe says. “In fact, any state rule that interfered with a federal filing would be null and void under the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the United States Constitution. Elizabeth complied with all applicable federal rules.”

Seriously, this line of attack is just smelling so desperate. I had Facebook friends jumping all over this like they knew what the fuck they were talking about, but with little actual facts of the actual matter at hand. Just some biased conservative law blogger’s post (which I will not link to) and a prayer.

I get it. Brown is bleeding support and Warren is doing good, and you can’t talk about your candidate’s record because it’s rather unappealing to the voters of the Commonwealth. And you’re following your candidate’s lead, since he’s decided to take the Karl Rove low road, so you feel entitled or like you have permission or something. But please, don’t be so freaking obvious. It’s making our job too easy. And making our side feel that much more motivated to go out on the streets and talk to voters, because the attacks are such lying bullshit you feel like you want to go out and fight the stupidity firsthand.

No, on second thought, keep it up, and we’ll get all of Massachusetts canvassed like four times over by the time Nov 6th rolls around.

Councilors tell Auditor “You are staying!”

by at 6:19 pm.

I just finished watching the end of the Special Meeting City Council meeting on the future of the City Auditor Sheryl Wright. She is staying based on a vote of 6-3; surprisingly newly appointed City Councilor John Leahy voted against it and I will let you guess who the other two were. In my opinion, he should have passed but him quoting CC E. Kennedy signaled a position that my friend Jack already picked up on.

As soon as LTC puts up the video of this meeting, I will post a few of the City Councilors’ comments as an update I especially liked CC R. Mercier’s comments; for example that a list of complaints against the Auditor were not presented when they met with her a couple of months ago.

In addition to the constant criticism, Campi (is it Campi or Campy) wrote an editorial last week which was moved to the front page of their web site today. The editorial told the City Councilors that “City auditor doesn’t deserve new contract.”

The opening sentence of the editorial, which you can find on line and I choose not directly link to, states “The Lowell City Council should respectfully decline the chance to renew City Auditor Sheryl Wright’s contract and instead open a job search for new applicants.”

The majority was respectful and decides to open up discussion to renew her contract. By the way this is the last sentence of the editorial “And that is why the City Council should seek new candidates for city auditor. If it doesn’t, it would be affirming Wright’s subpar performance as its own.”

The talking points listed in the editorial are quite similar to those who lead the attack against the Auditor. But this attempted move is nothing more than a few dozen attempts of “death by 1,000 paper cuts.”

For those of you who are not familiar with that saying, my colleague Jack has given a name to the campaign to change the Administration (i.e. get rid of Bernie ), therefore the culture at City Hall, back to the good old days. I should add good for them, not so good for the rest of us.

Sheryl, I guess you have been adopted and are no longer a political orphan.

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