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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Can we now move on?

Left In Lowell

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October 5, 2012

Can we now move on?

by at 6:57 am.

Jen reported on her life in the City blog on the release of a letter from the Inspector General’s office that states “There is no evidence asbestos or lead paint was improperly handled during the Lowell Housing Authority’s 2008 renovation of the North Common Village complex, state Inspector General Glenn Cunha declared in a letter to LHA.” On her post, Jen has a link to the pdf of the two-page letter.

Gerry also posted it on his blog on the IG letter. He states “Thanks to a disgruntled incompetent Ex-Inspector, a bitter Councilor and a newspaper Editor with a Personal Agenda against the City Administration and the Executive Director of the LHA, the taxpayers of this state had money and time of the IG and FBI along with many other agencies wasted chasing NON-Issues and unfounded accusations. It’s to bad Camacho/Elliot and the Sun can’t get billed for the waste of time they caused.”

I have to agree. First, if the IG letter portrayed the LHA and/or the City Administration in a negative light, don’t you think that by now, it would have been Tweeted, put on Facebook and of course made an appearance on the Sun’s “Breaking News Section.” The story will be covered by them? How and with what spin? I will wait to see.

So for the record, let’s review what happened back in late January - early February. [All of the articles are available on the Sun’s website for a fee or you may want to visit the Pollard Memorial Library.]

Article #1, published on Friday, January 27, 2012, written by Lyle Moran and titled: “Doubts persist on work at LHA.”

As the Lowell Housing Authority moves forward with efforts to bring 132 units at its North Common Village into compliance with the state building code, new questions have emerged about how, and if, the agency took steps to address any asbestos or lead paint present in the units. Because the LHA started the rehab work in 2008 without notifying city officials and pulling building permits, the city was unable to confirm if the agency conducted the proper asbestos or lead testing before the demolition of walls, former City Building Commissioner Robert Camacho has told The Sun.
Camacho has said testing for potential lead or asbestos issues before starting rehab work is important to the health and public safety of the residents and construction workers.

Article #2, published on Tuesday, January 31st, (Breaking News Section) written by Lyle Moran and titled: “Council wants agencies to report on lead paint, asbestos handling during LHA rehab.”

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve motions calling on City Manager Bernie Lynch to have the proper government agencies report on any handling of asbestos and lead paint during the Lowell Housing Authority’s renovation of 132 units at its North Common Village. The first of two motions regarding the LHA called for Lynch to reach out to the state Department of Environmental Protection, as well as LHA Executive Director Gary Wallace, to make sure any asbestos in the renovated units at North Common was dealt with properly.

If asbestos-containing material is present in a unit where demolition or renovation activity is taking place, the DEP must be notified prior to work starting to remove the asbestos.

Article #3, published on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 written by Lyle Moran and titled “Lead-paint oversight planned at LHA.”

City Councilor Rodney Elliott said he filed the motion to make sure any public-health issues are addressed, because asbestos-containing material can cause cancer. Elliott also said he has been told that there was asbestos in the floor tiles and covers for the piping at North Common, which was built in the 1930s.

“I don’t think anything was done above board,” Elliott said.

But the manager said all indications are that no asbestos was in the rehabbed units or is in any other North Common units. Lynch said Mill City Environmental conducted a test yesterday of a vacant unit that was not rehabbed and did not find any asbestos.

“The accusation that there was illegal disposal or treatment (of asbestos) does not seem to be the case,” Lynch said. [Emphasis mine]

(LHA Executive Director Gary) Wallace has said there was no asbestos or lead paint in the North Common units during the renovations. [Emphasis mine]

The lead-paint motion, also filed by Elliott, asked Lynch to contact the proper state or federal agency to report on the issue. Elliott said the proper handling of lead paint is especially important to ensure the safety of children.

Below is an 11 minute clip of the half hour discussion that took place on that subject at the January 31st meeting. It gives you a feel for the tone and content of the “conversation.” If you wish to watch the entire meeting (over 2 hours), it is available on the LTC website along with all other governmental meetings. And the minutes of the January 31st meeting are available on the City website.

There were mistakes made when the LHA renovated those apartments. However, the events that occurred after this was acknowledged and addressed were motivated by to personal political ambition. Let’s not fool ourselves to believe it had anything to do with tenant safety.

8 Responses to “Can we now move on?”

  1. Jack Says:

    The words “psychic need” come to mind.

    Let’s take Patrick Murphy’s “open letter” in a broader context. One that spans several years back.

    It’s hard to keep track of all the misinformation printed in the Sun day after day, when one is just trying to do his best in the job he was elected to do. Yet every now and then there are charges made–or made up–that are so egregious as to require a written response.

    In short, subcommittees are not to support one councilor’s psychic need for media attention, but to do work, discuss difficult matters, hear residents’ concerns and suggestions, plan for long-term substantive changes that can impact people’s lives. I have been disappointed that these have not been widely used for policy discussions.

    I hope that we can focus on those important decisions, even as the newspaper and its allies do their best to distract us from our job.

    All the best,


    I was more receptive to Murphy’s rebuke of C.Elliott and the meddling Campi. If I was to censure Patrick it would be, “What took you so long?” But, that is unfair. He, alone, is of the mind and temperment to call shenanigans. I had a squad leader once tell me, “Mitchell. Do not mistake my kindness for weakness.

    Clearly, some Councilors become keenly aware of the limits of decorum and commity, and they EXPLOIT those limits; staying barely enough inside the bounds that their peers will remain disgruntled, but effectively tolerant.

    The crackpot crusade over asbestos and lead at LHA will go down in Lowell’s folklore. Let’s ensure that we remember that calling shenanigans is a virtue.

    I’ve said of Murphy, “What is best about him is what’s worst about him.” Meaning, he wears his virtues to a fault.

    C.Elliott? What’s worst about him is what’s worst about him.

    My buddy Taup lectures me, “Do the right thing.” I got it, Bill. I got it!

  2. Lynne Says:

    I love how he starts “asbestos was banned” blah blah blah. Like EVERYONE needs to be educated on that point. Yeah, you’re so smaht for knowing that.

    It gives you a feel for the tone and content of the “conversation.”

    This gives you a feel for the tone this guy has been setting EVERY FREAKING MEETING.

    I do not know how Lynch does it, I really don’t. The guy has my full and complete sympathy, and gratitude. Thanks for staying at the job despite years of this crap.

  3. Mr. Lynne Says:

    “I don’t think…”

    Stop there. Now you’re accurate.

  4. Jack Says:

    Here we go!

    Former Building Commissioner Robert Camacho raised the possibility of asbestos being present in the units last January. He said based on the age of the buildings of the village, which was built more than 70 years ago, he would assume the units contained both asbestos and lead paint.

    Soon after, the City Council unanimously passed Councilor Rodney Elliott’s motion directing City Manager Bernie Lynch to have the proper government agencies determine if any asbestos or lead paint present during the LHA’s renovations of the 132 units.
    (bold mine)

    Never mind due diligence when a crackpot crusade can pbe used in the campaign to inflict 1,000 paper cuts!

    Blame Camacho for all of it, then hide under the skirt of the Council.

    Please, please, please Councilors. When The Sun calls you for comment, provide a quote that is frank and unequivocal.

  5. Paul@01852 Says:

    It *is* now on the Sun’s Breaking News section but the story is just a repeat of (probably) the AP ticker with no byline. Wonder if it will even make tomorrow’s paper? Or was it on one of today’s “missing pages” ?

  6. Prince Charming Says:

    I think Rodney owes the administration an apology.

  7. Paul@01852 Says:

    Just as I suspected!! The story on the front page of today’s Sun, “Occupancy permits issued for LHA’s N. Common units” says NOTHING about the lead or asbestos issues, at least not on the front page. Suspiciously, the “cut” page (Please see LHA/12) only contains the comics! Does the Sun think the issue is that funny? This notice (in red font) is at the top of the Sun’s web page: “Note to our readers. Several pages could not be published in today’s Sun due to technical production issues beyond our control. Those pages included several with continuations of stories from Page 1. We apologize to our readers for this inconvenience, and ask that you read these stories on lowellsun.com.” Unfortunately the only info on the Sun’s web page re: asbestos or lead is, as I noted above in Comment #5, a cut-and-paste from what is probably the AP ticker. Way to go, Sun!

  8. Paul@01852 Says:

    As a side-note to the above, the Sun must think we all are in need of a double-dose of humor since they printed the same comics as on pg. 12, also on pg.23. I’m “doubled” over in laughter!

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