Left In Lowell

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August 3, 2013

Statement from Mayor Murphy

by at 8:01 pm.

Patrick Murphy shared a statement on RichardHowe.com which everyone ought to read. I’ll pull a few quotes, but go read the whole thing (I’ve bolded some things I really liked):

So much energy is wasted each week on what is least important to the people we represent. I am not without fault. I am responsible for my own words. At a kickoff event for Van Pech the other week, I spoke of Van’s vote on the Zoning Board to allow a methadone clinic its special permit as the “lone vote that sought to do the right thing.” While I do believe that he reached the right conclusion—a belief that even the Sun’s May 28th editorial acknowledges—it should not be inferred that all the votes in opposition had knowingly done the wrong thing. I do not and did not think that the Zoning Board had acted improperly as a whole, but when one member receives a substantial campaign contribution ($250) from an opponent of the special permit only days before he is to rule on the matter, that gives the appearance of a conflict.

[…]

Exactly four years ago tomorrow, Jim Campanini wrote to my brother, “The city is very divided politically—like it has been for awhile—and I don’t see any change in the near future. Maybe Patrick can reverse a bad trend: lack of leadership. But I don’t see it happening without Patrick raising money and gaining name recognition throughout the city. Older voters don’t read the Internet.” In other words, you need to buy ink in the paper to win.

The Sun wants to swing away at “hypocrisy” and campaign finance “issues” which really amount to a clerical error not listing that the few donations made to my campaigns were, as the Sun has often reported during the campaigns, made by myself. It is a situation rarely seen by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, which quickly considered the issue resolved with a few clicks on the computer. But here again is another distraction from the real and larger question of money in politics: Why should individuals with business before the city, be allowed to contribute to candidates and incumbents who might be in a position to influence decisions affecting their business? Does it not cease to be “political speech” when an individual spreads thousands of dollars around to more candidates than could possibly win? Does that not make it even slightly less likely that the public interest will win out over private interests? These are the questions that my proposed “Pay-to-Play” Ordinance sought to answer, that many of my colleagues thought unnecessary, that the newspaper—the original “pay-to-play” organization—did not want answered.

[…]

A critical editorial (is there any other kind?) or perhaps a chat some time ago actually warned about the paper being able to “buy ink by the barrel.” The underlying suggestion, I assume, is that there is nothing intrinsically truthful about the ink in the paper; that ink is but a commodity to be bought and traded by the barrel, in lieu of the truth if need be; that it matters not what is being written, but how much you can afford to pay for people to read it.

The whole thing leads in gently with an anecdote about Hale’s Brook and ends with hope for the future. The tone of it is firm and intelligent, a bit conciliatory, and full of his direct and honest perspective. The thing you cannot ever accuse Patrick Murphy of is not being direct and honest. The “barrels of ink” notwithstanding.

6 Responses to “Statement from Mayor Murphy”

  1. Jack Says:

    Two minor tweaks, and voila: “Some councilors want to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the conduct … that is embarrassing the city,” ??? said. “I have no problem doing the responsible thing and calling someone out on reprehensible behavior that is dragging the city and the good name of others into the ground.

    Who are we talking about, now?

  2. joe from Lowell Says:

    “The good name of the city” - as if anyone who isn’t a Lowell politics obsessive has even heard of this.

    I love the claim that the last two years have been an embarrassment for Lowell. Oh, yeah, baby, our good name has really gone down the tubes. Nothing but bad press for Lowell since 2011.

  3. Jade Says:

    The old rule about not arguing with someone “who buys ink by the barrel” may no longer be valid. Social media and the Internet provide the opportunity to connect directly and honestly with the people who matter most, rather than relying on the media to convey the message. Why would anyone rely on someone to tell their story when you can tell it directly. Especially when some at the newspaper have demonstrated that they are not necessarily going to tell it in the way you would like it told.

    Newspaper reports have become increasingly emotion laden, more blame oriented, and more focused on provoking rather than enlightening. Is it because they are fighting for their lives and the only way to survive is by attracting audiences?

    That is why social media and direct communication is so important, it gives you the ability and capability to counter someone “who buys ink by the barrel” and render them irrelevant.

  4. Huh Says:

    Why hasn’t the Sun written anything about Belanger getting $250 in a campaign contribution from an interested party to a matter before the ZBA right before a vote. Laziness? Or is Belanger one of the Sun’s slate of candidates that they don’t want to hurt?

    This isn’t the first bit of information that the Sun has failed to report as they work to distort and mislead. Let’s see how could we describe them? How about “Self Righteous Frauds”?

  5. Christopher Says:

    There are ethics rules prohibiting gifts to members of municipal bodies over a certain amount from parties which have business before those bodies. Seems to me those rules should apply to campaign contributions the same way as to personal gifts. Also, I don’t see the need for the Mayor to apologize for his Van Pech comment. Political figures say much more biting and outrageous things all the time and if Pech was the lone vote for what the Mayor thought was correct the Mayor has every right to say so.

  6. Rose Says:

    Is there any type of ordinance or ethics rule that limits the acceptance of campaign donations by people going in front of the ZBA or City Council? There certainly should be. David Daly donating $250 to Belanger and his partner Bryan Shanley $100 is troubling.

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