Left In Lowell

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February 3, 2013

CC Election Season has Begun

by at 3:19 pm.

You can tell the local political season has begun. Mayor Patrick Murphy’s honest answer to Gerry Nutter’s question on yesterday WCAP Saturday morning show has solicited some interesting reactions. In case you missed it, Gerry asked Mayor Murphy about his plans for this upcoming City Council election. And the Mayor said I am “leaning” against not running. He could have said I have not decided yet, but he chose to tell everyone that was listening that he was “leaning” in one direction.

There was a good exchange on facebook after Gerry posted on his blog and I thought that the discussion would remain on that level. However, it was not meant to be.

Today the Sun ran a story on the comments made by Mayor Murphy. Evan Lips, the writer, solicited the reaction of Mayor Murphy’s colleagues and quickly put together a story. I have to praise both Lips and the editor who gave him the assignment.

I found two comments made by different City Councilors to be of interest.

First, CC Rodney Elliott. He is quoted as saying “seems like it could be a plea for attention.” A plea for attention? If that had been Mayor Murphy’s intent he would have cultivated a friendship with our local newspaper. He would have been the recipient of a lot of good press at the expense of his colleagues. He would be often quoted in the Sun always in a positive light. That is how he would get “attention.”

But I would rather focus on this sentence: [City Councilor Marty] Lorrey, who is retired, said he typically spends about 35 hours per week working on council-related matters.

In my opinion this is why it is difficult to attract younger, career-oriented, civic-minded individuals to run for the City Council. Thirty-five hours! Let’s say that CC Lorrey spends the most amount of time. But at a minimum, they spend 20 hours, don’t they?

How can someone with a young family, a demanding career, who may have to commute to work take on another part-time job? Where does one find the time?

These past few weeks I have had a number of discussions on this issue. And it always come back to the “time” problem. Both for campaigning and serving. And please do not blame the old media or the new media. There are plenty of people with the stamina and temperament who could care less what the Sun, WCAP or bloggers have to say.

I am not sure what the answer is. Paying the City Councilor a little bit more than we do might be helpful. Maybe going back to meeting every other week as they did a few years ago? Somethings got to give.

As for Mayor Murphy, let me end my post with Jack’s comments made on facebook “Murphy is a question, shrouded in mystery, cloaked in an enigma; carried by the Gingerbread Man. To predicate a calculation based on what cards he shows you is folly.”

10 Responses to “CC Election Season has Begun”

  1. Prince Charming Says:

    Quote: Elliott was also critical of Murphy’s claim that he has accomplished a lot, saying that he’s not sure what Murphy has accomplished, “but can say he hasn’t done much to unify City Council.” 8-1 constantly is pretty damned unified, if you ask me. Also, Lorrey is doing 35 hours a week but he’s doing it right. He’s everywhere. Maybe some “seasoned” ones should take note.

  2. C R Krieger Says:

    I like the Churchillian quote.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  3. Lynne Says:

    Mimi - “seems like it could be a plea for attention…” - ahhhh, yet another fine example of psychological projection.

    The thing about Murphy is, he’s a straight shooter. Love him or hate him, he doesn’t hold back. Sometimes this breaks a few eggs, but it also means you know where you stand and he doesn’t hedge. But Elliot would not know how to be that sort of person, EVER, so I can see how he would project his own desire to be in the spotlight onto Patrick.

  4. Christopher Says:

    How much do City Councilors make? I thought I remembered it was enough that it could be one’s sole source of income.

  5. Jen Myers Says:

    Councilors make $15,000. The Mayor makes $20,000.

  6. Jack Says:

    What about the bennies? Medical/Dental? Retirement?

    Does time on the Council count towards retirement in the State or County system, or vice versa?

    My cynicism is borne by the rampant ‘gaming of the system,’ so prevalent amongst the Commonwealth’s elected class.

    Jen, you are off the hook on these questions. Thanks for being a good sport.

  7. Christopher Says:

    Thank you Jen; I thought I remembered it was more.

  8. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    I recall when the pay scale for the CC was increased to the current levels, the biggest argument for the increase was to attract more and better qualified candidates. In reality what happened is the number of candidates continued to decrease. Even Kendal wrote that he was wrong about the increase in wages being at the heart of attracting candidates. I certainly do not advocate a full time CC like Boston or Cambridge (I recall Dan Leahy pushed for it when he was a councilor with a 50K salary).

    I know I sound like a broken record but the way to generate more interest is to make the CC more local. Say 6 from various wards around the city and 3 at-large. It would mean less money needed to run for the Ward seats and I think it would impower people in parts of the city where the current CCers do not live.

    More money isn’t the answer to greater participation.

  9. Jack Says:

    I remember Dick Howe, Jr saying something about when the wage was set at $5,000. At that time it was a living wage, so many people ran for Council.

    If we paid Councilors 50K, that would be more than many of the full time staff. :v(

    I think we could justify a full time Mayor, under Plan E. But, not 8 other full time Councilors.

  10. Christopher Says:

    FYI if we went to ward representation there would need to be eleven rather than six plus however many at-large are thought appropriate.

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