Left In Lowell

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September 12, 2012

Lunch Time Heartburn

by at 12:27 pm.

Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz

About last night:

- C. Kennedy won’t vote for a contract for any Auditor. For a City Manager?
- C. Leahy dodged a bullet because the two most divisive motions were amended, thus softened. His questions were soft, too. His point that we shouldn’t chase after stuff coming out of a trial was his best moment.
- Kudos to C. Mercier for backing up the new Sheriff in town. Finally. If we are going to pursue bad behavior from before Lynch’s arrival, will it dawn on most that Lynch is the solution, not the problem? Sorry, but I’m not so sure Rita gets this. If she is on the Kennedy/Elliott bandwagon, how can she battle for the manager AND appear to attack him. Rita is crafty. Deft? The crew she is running with is hamfisted.
- This “blame game” is going to have a lot of collateral damage. I don’t think C.Elliott gives two hoots about smearing the reputations of City Workers. Will Mercier and Kennedy keep going along, just to damage the CM? As vote totals drop, the Union vote grows more prominent.
- I thought the bar was set low before. Observers have commented that last night was the worst, so far. “I wanted to puke,” said one.

PS. Thanks to Kathleen Marcin for point blank asking C.Elliott, at the public safety meeting held in the Mayor’s reception room prior to the Council meeting, how will we actually hire more cops AND keep a policy of 0% tax increases? What can be cut, when we are at an all time low? I tapped on C.Lorrey’s shoulder and said, “You don’t need no stinkin’ parks. You don’t need no stinkin’ pools.”

Is this the best way to develop public policy?

by at 11:29 am.

If you missed last night’s marathon City Council meeting, you can have the pleasure of watching the reply on LTC or watch it that on demand from the LTC website. Viewers beware, the meeting lasted 5 ½ hours; yes 5 ½ hours. I have a number of observations. Some issues (Health Dept., Fire Dept, Auditor) require their own post with video, but here are few quick and not-so-quick hits:

1. The demeanor and atmosphere of the City Council has steadily deteriorated. A lot of it can be attributed to the combative nature of City Councilor Rodney Elliott’s questions. I have no problems with “though” questions from CC Kennedy, Mercier and others but the continuous interrogation technique of Administration staff and Department Heads by CC Elliott has become detrimental to the conduct of business in City Council chambers. You can ask a question without trying to demean the individual. His interaction last night with both Fire Chief Pitta and Health Department Director Frank Singleton was inappropriate and grandstanding. Unfortunately, his colleagues are neither capable nor willing to control the Rodney show and with the encouragement of elements in the newspaper and other media outlets, we are in for re-runs the rest of this term.

2. These lengthy meetings are the result of City Councilor not pushing reports or discussions to Sub-Committees. In the past, reports generated by the Administration were often sent to the appropriate Sub-Committee, now the questioning and subsequent debate occurs during Council meetings. Is it because Councilors want face time with the largest number of constituency? Is it because they want to maneuver around the Sub-Committee system? Whatever the reason, it is not helping the City Council develop public policy. CC R. Mercier as noted this problem on two occasions, I hope the next time it occurs, she puts her foot down and says “Enough, let’s send it to the Sub-Committee.” At this rate the only people watching CC meetings are Jack, Gerry and I. The elderly are asleep and the young people could not be bothered with all this verbal volleyball.

3. In the past, when I would post on City Council meetings, I would link to the Lowell Sun story written by Jen or Mike. I will no longer do that. I do not think this current reporter presents a fair view of the meetings and furthermore, with a number of individuals refusing to speak to him, it does not give us the whole picture. A journalist is only as good as his/her sources. If a lot of people do not return your calls, you stories suffer and your readership dwindles.

4. If it is true that 10 years ago, City employees stole valuable metals from the Julian Steele demolition/reinvention project, why are we just hearing about it now? Someone had this piece of information and did nothing until now? I would like to know what the motivation was to keeping silent and why this motivation is no longer valid. By the way, I think it is a great idea that this will now be investigated. I want everyone who was involved to be identified; those who committed this alleged crime, those who knew about it and those who should have known about it because they were in charge.

5. I too, like Gerry, want to have the Bayliss discussion in public and not in an Executive Session. I would like to hear the terms of the “settlement” unfiltered and without spin.

6. Did you know that the Manager works for the City Council? We were all reminded last night, just in case we did not know how our government is structured. CC Kennedy had used a metaphor during the campaign about sitting next to the Manager as he drives the car, and not in the back seat; and quite a few people thought this was clever and so true.

I saw it a bit differently. I thought the City Councilor was supposed to decide on what kind of car will be driven and where the car should be driven. I do not think it is their job to sit in the front seat and act as a human GPS.

If the majority or even minority of the City Council thinks helping the manager steer the wheel is their right and obligation, I can guarantee you that the car will crash. After they have pushed the Manager out of the way, the City Councilors who believe they should be steering will begin arguing among themselves as to who should be the lead driver.

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