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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Good Civics and Bad Civics

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July 21, 2013

Good Civics and Bad Civics

by at 5:08 pm.

I seemed to have struck a nerve.

As the head of the LHNG, I try keep my personal feelings out of the discussion, however, a post by a Lowell blogger today just went to far. Suggesting that neighborhood groups in Lowell are the Taliban is offensive. Bringing issues to the forefront in this city is not a power grab, it is my right as a citizen. We are volunteers trying to improve our neighborhoods. If you don’t know that, you don’t know what my neighborhood group really does.

It is very possible I could end up with egg on my face, after this. But. I’ll stick to my guns, if it drives the dialogue.

As Lowellians, we should bond together at the grassroots level. We should exercise all of our Rights, as afforded to us by Lowell’s Charter and by America’s Founders. This cannot be stressed enough.

But, what we should not do is make a handshake with the City Manager to do an end run around the City Council. We should NOT go into meetings in the Mayor’s Reception Room and present ourselves as speaking on behalf of one sixth of Lowell ,over raising taxes to fund putting more cops on the street. Further, we should not shut down debate over proposed ordinances or proposed amendments to ordinances.

There is a difference between being a grassroots lobbyist and a strong arming special interest.

So, as we go forward, and always keeping an eye on November; let’s bear in mind what a proper balance of civic engagement is. It’s good to shout, sometimes. Just don’t prattle.

35 Responses to “Good Civics and Bad Civics”

  1. Paul Belley Says:

    As Lowellians, we should bond together at the grassroots level. We should exercise all of our Rights, as afforded to us by Lowell’s Charter and by America’s Founders.

    I hear you Jack on this issue. The neighborhood groups are a voice for their area of the city but are they? I have heard from many folks and cable hosts that these neighborhood leaders are not the true voice of their neighborhood and were not voted by them to represent them. Maybe not, but in general when they descend on city hall on a issue they are well spoken and are looking out for their neighborhood.

    Does the city council bend to their requests? Most of the time they do. It is sad that only a few carry the heavy load for the good and thank God we have folks that want to do it. I believe and know these people to be good honest people looking after not only their hoods but making Lowell a better place for all of us to work and live in.

  2. Taxpayer Says:

    Taliban was an awful choice to describe another group!

  3. Jack Says:

    It got the blood flowing.

    Who can take on the neighborhood groups? In an election year? If they are allowed to go unchecked, they will get too big for their britches. I’ve seen signs of this going back a couple of years, now. Others have complained to me, confidentially.

    I tried to nip it in the bud, but it is time for the weed whacker.

  4. kmarcin Says:

    Jack…I pray to the neighborhood gods everyday that someone will step up and take my job. I’m begging you please swap homes with me for a week and answer my phone and email. Often neighbors have differing opinions (which I personally welcome and hope people keep showing up with them) which is a great thing and how we get a dialogue started.

    Downtown we may harp on a few bars that make our neighborhood a shit-show…but we all agree that the other 23 bars are excellent business owners and neighbors. Bars are not our primary agenda item when we meet as you well know having attended some of our meetings.

    In lower highlands you may hear a barrage of concerns about gun violence but you have to admit when it’s your child watching television when the bullet whizzes by their head that really has to be your priority.

    My suggestion to you is to stop focusing on whatever issue you seem to be zeroing in on and attend all the neighborhood meetings and identify the areas of common concern. This is what ALL city council candidates should be doing pre-election. We go through this every 2 years…every councilor claims they can represent “all” citizens regardless of neighborhood. As usual this is the first lie every candidate tells.

    You want to take on the neighborhood groups…start by specifically stating your concerns and group and I assure you on behalf of all the neighborhood groups we are more than happy to have a conversation.

    ps. this means you too Paul.

  5. Jack Says:

    Who are you lecturing, Kathleen? I live on the Lakeview end of Coburn. Bars? Got a bad one within 300ft of my front door. The slobbering hoards play hardball under my bedroom window. Guns? Same bar. One dead guy, 5 shots, I was told.

    Wanna talk drugs. 100 ft from my from door, 2 junkies score, shoot up, OD. One dead. The other, less dead. I had a crack head behind me for 3 years.

    So? Do I win the contest?

    I know what the groups do and don’t do. Your beef is with the two faced pukes that won’t criticize your activism to your face. And, by “you” I mean all of you.

    Now, when the activists ran roughshod over talk about chickens, or hammered the CM’s appointment to the LHA, or railed about a flashing neon sign of one business, but was tight lipped over another? Ya, Sister. I know the score.

    I’m here to tell you about it. In the open. It’s not me you should be pissed at.

    First, start with your own. Then, check out the two faced, back stabbers that feign they care, so you’ll help them keep their title.

    I’m the least of your troubles, Sister.

  6. Taxpayer Says:

    Jack the bar is closed license was revoked months ago! Say and sorry and move on

  7. Jack Says:

    What? Not months. Maybe a month. I didn’t know it was revoked. It has been more quite. Though, the teens cavorting in the street at 1 am, 3 nights a week is treat.

    That bar will be open in no time. The other bars don’t want their clientele.

  8. Corey Erickson Says:

    Kathleen, The efforts you have assumed will always be under appreciated and not by most here, but the thread line includes some of us who have taken great efforts to improve our own areas as well. Fellow suffers in a sense. We know councilors can’t represent all views, 99% of the time they represent or say what “voters” want them to. But as an organization you invite that by holding the prospect of your votes for the price of agreement with your purpose.

    Many talk about the standards that papers, councilors, blogs or radio and tv should have to be fair and balanced. I’m saying its the job of Lowell’s neighborhood leaders to fill this void. It’s your task as chair, president, leader or activist to represent issues before and by your membership. Your personal view as leader should account for no more than one vote. Even if that means arguing “for” the right to build henhouses, temples or dunkin donuts you disagree with personally. For you as a downtown leader & fair minded resident, maybe acknowledging hundreds of thousands of public dollars spent on late night bar security is quite enough for you guys and elsewhere might need more attention.

    Im sorry but, the citywide neighborhood group that assembles and engages my government is totally illegitimate. Your just another dance partner, your all getting in the way, your trying to act like ward bosses, it’s what’s the city council is for, again they won’t tell you because they need your votes. The “citywide” leader group thing started out nicely in theory. Lights on lights off. Ok, good stuff. Here’s just a few points where ya go off track and move towards the 3rd rail that is our public policy.

    If your approaching my government and telling them you don’t care if taxes are raised because you need more cops…. You might recognize many citywide neighbors feel the problem isn’t crime… It’s drug addiction… Cops don’t cure that.

    If you want action and resources to clear out “the hobos”… You might recognize many citywide neighbors feel the problem isn’t laziness, drugs, or alcohol… It’s poverty and mental illness… That’s simply displacement.

    If you want police presence to reduce crime and make you feel safer… You might recognize many citywide neighbors feel we should let police supervisors deploy with proven methods for a change… Instead of hysterical political pressure.

    I honestly dont care either way about the farm animal ordinance, just supportive of their right to have the debateand your group spoke publicly to the Lowell Sun trying to squash a motion by an elected councilor to discuss it? A bit bold don’t ya think?

    This has little to do with chickens and everything to do with a neighborhoods choice via your voice. Any leadership or neighborhood group that doesn’t fully account for it’s membership or present two reasoned opposing sides of the issues to their members and the public, become just another special interest group and afforded no more consideration than the common tax paying resident.

    Its not personal. Its too bad because people like yourselves are desperately needed in your neighborhoods and the groups have the potential to greatly inform the public and engage the government and its elected leaders.

    You and the others are smart enough to know when you speak, people assume its a collective opinion. I know it might be nice to be armed with an email list and a grease gun but there’s a lot to be said for one person willing to speak their mind. Sorry, If i honestly wanted you guys deciding citywide policy issues… I would have voted for you in the council election.

  9. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    On my soap box again.

    This “controversy” would be moot if Lowell had a ward form of electing City Councilors vs the current At-large system.

    I also believe it would also result in a larger voter turnout since the neighborhoods that are not represented would suddenly be asked to vote for one of their own, not someone from Belvidere or the Highlands or Pawtucketville.

    Then the whole issue of do the leaders of these neighborhood groups have too much sway would be transformed into what did the CC from Ward X have to say about…

    Does the current CC want this, NO absolutely not! Why? It would force them to run against current colleagues who live in the same Ward and limit the number of At-large seats.

  10. Jack Says:

    I think Eleanor Rigby wins in this game of horseshoes.

    The neighborhood groups, well intentioned, are filling a void left by our current legitimate government. Lowell needs the Council to be scattered across the City, not clustered & cloistered amongst some of Lowell.

    Let’s move past the distraction of Plan A (Strong Mayor) and move on with a credible conversation on how to shape a “Plan E” Council in a manner where the fullness of Lowell is served.

  11. Taxpayer Says:

    Which would entail that you need a strong mayor like Boston’s system of local government.

  12. Jack Says:

    Actually, No! Boston has a population 6 times larger and a registered voter list of 387,000+/-. The reason ’strong mayor’ works in Boston is because the tendency to slip into parochialism is washed out by sheer volume.

    Lowell will get a Lawrence kind of politics, via Plan A. No thanks.

  13. Taxpayer Says:

    The why should candidates have to fight for a ward when its multitudes smaller than Boston. I can be in Centraville in 1 min, etc etc

  14. Jack Says:

    This is why your politics is wrongheaded. It isn’t about fighting for Centralville. It is about helping Centralville blossom. If you care for your neighborhood and are answerable to your neighborhood, you will strive to bring in the most and bring out the best.

    Do you see everything as an arm wrestle?

    I hear a lot of bullshit about hiring Lowellians. We should seek talent and excellence from within, then from away.

    Allowing each neighborhood to have a seat at the table, would accelerate the development of internal excellence.

    Right now, The Belvidere has the most influential ‘neighborhood group.’ We watch them lord over Lowell on Tuesdays.

  15. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Actually as I understand it the Sec of State no longer has so-called Plan A,B,C,D,E etc. Those are guidelines. If Lowell so decided we could make the city council a combinaton Ward/At-large body and still have a City Manager. Below is the outline for the City of Worcester which also has a modified Plan E government. From their website:

    Worcester is governed by a Council-manager form of government with a popularly elected mayor. A city council acts as the legislative body, and the council-appointed manager handles the traditional day-to-day chief executive functions.

    City councilors can run as either a representative of a city district or as an at-large candidate. The winning at-large candidate who receives the greatest number of votes for mayor becomes the mayor (at large councilor candidates must ask to be removed from the ballot for mayor if they do not want to be listed on the mayoral ballot).

  16. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    ….continued from the Worcester web site:

    Initially, Plan E government in Worcester was organized as a 9-member council (all at-large), a ceremonial mayor elected from the council by the councilors, and a council-appointed city manager. The manager oversees the daily administration of the city, makes all appointments to city offices, and can be removed at any time by a majority vote of the Council. The mayor chairs the city council and the school committee, and does not have the power to veto any vote.

    In 1983, Worcester voters again decided to change the city charter. This “Home Rule” charter (named for the method of adoption of the charter) is similar to Plan E, the major changes being to the structure of the council and the election of the mayor. The 9-member Council became 11, 6 At-Large and 1 from each city district. The mayor is chosen by popular election, but must run as an At-Large Councilor.

  17. Taxpayer Says:

    This is coming from the same person who criticized neighborhood groups. If one person was elected from one particular neighborhood wouldn’t that in essence constitute a “neighborhood group” seeing that majority of voters would follow that one elected Councilor thus making a dictatorship.?????????

  18. Jack Says:

    I tend to consider voters as the leaders and the Councilor as the follower. Your mileage may vary.

  19. Tobes Says:


    Belvidere has the most influential neighborhood group? Really? A few people speak recently in support of a major zoning change, and now we’re “lording” over Tuesday night meetings? That couldn’t be further from the truth. And last I checked, our belvidere infested council tried their hardest to massage the sensitivity of “attacked” business owners (aka other belvidere residents) and scolded the P-board and neighbors for having the gall to recommend a change in zoning. (Rita, Lorey)

    Belvidere from a neighborhood group perspective is about as weak as it gets. Due in large part to issues where neighbors are generally pitted against one another, rather than interests of other city entities. Thr biggest culprit of lack of participation is a general indifference regarding issues that don’t involve the neighborhood.

    Ps. The best part of the Roger Street zoning change effort is that its rooted in the spirit of preserving neighborhood integrity. With a map and a set of darts, you can hit an identical area in every neighborhood across the city where the same zoning is coming up short.

  20. Taxpayer Says:

    I just think we would have a monopoly of Sections of the City if that ever happened

  21. Taxpayer Says:

    ‘of a section is what I meant to say” ie. belivi, cville etc

  22. Jack Says:

    Do you mean “Ward Boss,” taxpayer? You realize it is the 21st Century & the pay is low?

  23. Jack Says:


    What I was trying to say, via “… The Belvidere has the most influential ‘neighborhood group.’ We watch them lord over Lowell on Tuesdays,” is that The Belvidere neighborhood group IS the City Council.

    No disrespect to the active citizens that fiddle on the edges, intended. But, please. The Belvidere wields undue influence in that Chamber. I’m not crying, mind you. It is what it is, via our Charter.

    But when you bother to scrape the surface, as I have, you will see the imbalance that stains our democracy. Good news, though. It’s fixable.

  24. Taxpayer Says:

    Well keep fixing Jack, if it wasn’t for you “Old Lowell” I can hold heartedly tell that there would be in your words “New Lowell”. and that’s not from me!

  25. Jack Says:

    Huh? That ’smahtphone’ doesn’t work the way you think it does, taxpayer.

    As for “Old Lowell”-“New Lowell,” that’s not my favorite dichotomy.

    There’s Lowell and there’s “shady Lowell” or “crooked Lowell,” if you like.

    Being of Lowell is not inherently suspect. Pulling shenanigans to feather your nest, with our tax dollars IS.

  26. Taxpayer Says:

    Patrick Murphy doesn’t even deserve the title Mayor, what a disgrace to the City! He should resign immediately following his comments about board members!

  27. Jack Says:

    But, what if he buys a house and pays taxes?!

    taxpayer, please take your faux outrage to Gerry Nutter’s Blog. I can’t be bothered listening to anonymous parrots dick riding Dave Daly.

  28. Taxpayer Says:

    Jack go back to N. Reading!

  29. Taxpayer Says:

    Mr. Daly has done more for Lowell in one day than Patrick had ever or will do! Pack you bags Murph adios amigo!

  30. Jack Says:

    Really, taxpayer. Can I check his references? Should I start with folks at Trinity?

    PS. Did you hear Daly yucking it up with JMac & Freddy Doyle on WCAP, Friday morning? Birds of a feather, eh?

  31. Taxpayer Says:

    Yes you should JACK with your far left conspiracy theories, are we alright in Cville are you going paranoid are the walls coming in? Jack your a guy who sits in front of a computer and rants, these people took risks, hired people who have families support children and yet you paint them as evil. Once again go back to N. Reading please do us all the favor and trust me Lowell will prosper without you!

  32. Jack Says:

    I was talking to a friend of mine, a native Lowllian, about Daly. He said, ‘Daly wants inspectional services to go back to house plans jotted on the back of bar napkins.’

    That said, if all that you hold dear is so pure, why don’t you use your real name?

    Odd, the guy with the mask, lurking in shadows, dares lecture me about my concerns about underhanded shenanigans in a City that is known for Joe Tully and Mike McLaughlin.

    Paranoid? Those were two more famous convictions. There is a side of this town that prides themselves in their excellence at the shady sports of graft, corruption, etc. Like punk teenagers that walk into CVS with 20 bucks in their pocket, yet shoplift some candy bars because, ‘Fucking CVS is a big store. They can afford it. Beside, there’s a line of fuzz heads using their EBT cards. They ain’t paying for shit!’

    That’s you, taxpayer. You and the gimokes you crush Bud Light cans with.

  33. Taxpayer Says:

    Ummm Mike McLaughlin lived in Dracut! Can I ask what facts you to prove these back door shenanigans that you are talking about or your boy Murph? I’ll be waiting….

    and if you recall Jack, Daly was denied to develop behind Mt. Pleasant!

  34. Jack Says:

    Okay, you side step Tully, who is wearing an ankle braclet, or some shit like that, over shenanigans involving moving the DMV.
    Is that a canary in a coal mine?

    McLaughlin took a stab at being Lowell’s City Manager and got how many votes? By whom?

    Daly got rejected on Westview. Then he had a meltdown threatening Councilors that voted against him with scorched earth, come Nov. 2013.

    Remember this:

    The Column (Oct. 1, 2012)
    Daly’s petition to have 17.4 wooded acres rezoned to residential so he could build seven luxury homes was supported by five councilors, but needed six votes for approval.

    The first politician drawing Daly’s ire was state Rep. Kevin Murphy, a Lowell Democrat and attorney, who represented the Mt. Pleasant Golf Club’s board of directors before the council. Murphy told the council that the club’s directors were unanimously opposed to the zoning change to stand with neighborhood residents in opposition, and because of concerns about aesthetics and public safety on the street.

    But Daly said Murphy had in the weeks leading up to the Planning Board and council votes told his camp — including his project consultant, former City Manager John Cox — that the golf club would stay neutral. Daly also said his team had committed to addressing any concerns the golf club had, including agreeing to have a buffer zone between the club and the Westview site.

    But Daly said he believes Murphy and his brother Gary Murphy helped convince the club to oppose the rezoning because Murphy wanted to curry favor with voters in his district, which includes Westview Road.

    “He was playing to his constituents in the area and there were so many conflicts of interest it was sickening,” Daly said.

    Murphy disputed Daly’s statements.

    Seems the idol of your developer worship has a touch of ‘conspiracy theory’ in him, eh?

    Is there a hint of pay-to-play in Daly’s blurt? Hmmmm….

  35. Taxpayer Says:

    Hows he my idol you brought up Daly first not me, again I will ask what is the Shenanigans going on that Boards members were paid off…

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