Left In Lowell

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February 25, 2014

BotW: Take Two, But Later

by at 12:45 pm.

Sorry for the late post. This meeting snuck up on me! Well, not really, but…

Any picks from last week are carrying over to this week for agenda items which are from last week’s cancelled meeting. I’ve marked them in red. Any other item is still up for grabs! One guess per person, one per each item, and the less likely the item appears to be blowup material, the bigger the prize. Cthuhlu is safely out of my house and in joe from lowell’s hands, so I can stop watching my back, and I’m working on the next prize.

Here is the agenda as it stands for tonight (red items are already taken):

1 MAYOR’S BUSINESS
1.1 Citations - Jack Trottier and Paul Sickinger, Seniors at Tyngsboro High School, for their community service work in collaboration with the Lowell Fire Department to collect winter coats for the homeless and those in need. 

Citation - Arnaldo and Carmen Silva in recognition of new business, Sao Miquel Restaurant.

2 CITY CLERK
2.1 Minutes of City Council Meeting February 11th, for acceptance.

3 CITY AUDITOR
3.1 Communication – Paid vacation and sick leave from 1/1/2010 – 2/12/2014. 

Communication - Paid vacation and sick leave email request. (original motion) 

Communication - FY 2014 Audit.

4 UTILITY PUBLIC HEARINGS
4.1 National Grid/Verizon NE – Request pole location at 59 South Whipple St.

5 COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE CITY MANAGER
5.1 Communication Summary

Motion Responses

(A) Motion Response - ShotSpotter
(B) Motion Response - Properly mark parking spaces on Dublin Street as parking for COA employees only
(C) Motion Response - Update on redevelopment of the Rialto Building
(D) Motion Response - Kearney Square Bridge Update
(E) Motion Response - MSBA Claims

Informational 

(F) Informational - MCC Flier - Lowell Crit Infrastr Forum of 2-24-14
(G) Informational - Resignation Letter
(H) Informational - Net School Spending

5.2 Communication-Accept Resignation of Troix Bettencourt (Hunger/Homeless Comm)
5.3 Communication - Mgr. Out of State Travel (1) DPD.

6 VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
6.1 Vote-Authorize City Manager Execute Third Amendment to LDA with Trinity Hamilton Partnership
6.2 Vote-Transfer $2M from Chapter 17 account to School Dept

7 ORDINANCES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
7.1 Ordinance-Quarterly Traffic (Feb)

8 REPORTS (SUB / COMMITTEE, IF ANY)
8.1 Zoning SC 02-25-14.
8.2 Wire Insp. - National Grid - Electrical Main installation on Industrial Avenue and Stevens Street. 

9 PETITIONS
9.1 Claims (3) claim for property damage.

10 CITY COUNCIL - MOTIONS

10.1 C. Leahy – Req. Rules SC consider as a recommendation that the Mayor’s portrait be completed within the first 3 months of his or her inauguration.
10.2 C. Leahy - Req. City Mgr. provide update regarding the Methadone Clinic site on Steadman St.
10.3 C. Leahy/C. Samaras - Req. City Mgr. discuss plans to address the School Budget shortfall prior to his departure.
10.4 C. Leahy/M. Elliott - Req. City Mgr. have proper Dept. Heads (City and School) involved with snow removal meet with Municipal Facilities SC to discuss snow removal.
10.5 C. Kennedy – Req. City Council and City Mgr. discuss the letter dated January 31, 2014 from the Mass. Commission of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding School Budget shortfall.
10.6 C. Kennedy/C. Leahy – Req. Mayor create a City Council SC dedicated to working with merchants and property owners to enhance and improve the commercial environment in the Central Business District.
10.7 C. Kennedy - Req. City Mgr. instruct the DPW Commissioner create an improved plan for snow removal in the Central Business District.
10.8 C. Kennedy - Req. City Mgr. and Acting City Mgr. begin the process of hiring a CFO to continue to formulate the City Budget until a permanent CFO is hired.
10.9 C. Kennedy - Req. City Mgr. explain why the City Administration and the Health Dept. chose not to undertake an RFP process for the City ambulance contract.
10.1 C. Mercier - Req. City Mgr. have proper department install 2 signs (No Parking Here To Corner) at both corners of Roper St. and Rockingham St.
10.11 C. Mercier - Req. permission to discuss and question snow removal and parking issues on Roper St. and adress public safety issues.
10.12 M. Elliott – Req. City Council discuss setting up a joint Ad Hoc SC with City Council/School Committee to initiate discussion of high school and facility assessment report.
10.13 M. Elliott – Req. City Council discuss making Galligan Rd. a one way street.
10.14 M. Elliott - Req. City Council discuss public participation process for the location of the recycling center.
11 CITY COUNCIL - EXECUTIVE SESSION
11.1 Executive Session to discuss and release minutes of Executive Session meeting on January 21, 2014 and any other minutes that should be designated to be made public from executive sessions.
11.2 Executive Session regarding litigation report, public discussion of which could have a detrimental effect on the City’s position.

February 20, 2014

A Lesson For Rodney On Reserves

by at 12:22 am.

I wanted to take a moment to teach our new Mayor some things he already ought to know about the city’s money reserves, about saving taxpayer dollars, and proper budgeting. Since he thinks he knows better than a professional city manager who has taken us from negative $4.5M in reserves to a cozy but not complete positive, and all of that negative drawdown of free cash and then some happened on Rodney’s watch during the Cox years, I figured maybe he just doesn’t really understand budgets. I mean, he claims to all the time, dubbing himself a fiscal watchdog, but every time he opens his mouth, he belies this supposed expertise.

I hope he finds this primer informative! I certainly look forward to his better understanding showing itself in future discussions. Click to read more: (more…)

February 19, 2014

Net School Bullshit

by at 8:14 pm.

I’m watching the School Committee meeting, where Conway had a motion about the net school spending deficit, and of course Rodney had to have his say, stepping off the podium to foam at the mouth (I’m only slightly exaggerating). In fact, he claims that all this money being socked away into the rainy day fund was overly excessive and we should have been putting money towards the schools!

He wants to claim this net school spending problem lies at the feet of the last Mayor and Bernie Lynch. Oh, how quickly we forget (bold mine):

UPDATED: 10/17/2011 10:31:02 AM EDT
The councilor said his proposal still leaves $500,000 for Lynch to spend on other pressing needs.

Councilor Patrick Murphy has filed a motion requesting Lynch consider the city’s adopted strategic and fiscal management goals for property-tax relief, as well as net school spending, minimum reserves and snow-and-ice removal budgeting when deciding how to use the additional local aid.

Murphy said it is difficult to determine the exact amount of funding that should go toward limiting the increase in property taxes before the city determines its other financial needs, but he believes tax relief should be a “significant part” of any plan Lynch devises for using the local-aid money.

Putting money toward snow-and-ice budgeting will reduce the size of the snow-and-ice deficit for the next budget cycle, and placing some of the funding in the city’s reserves would boost the city’s long-term fiscal health, he said.

“One thing listed as a way to boost our bond rating was putting aside some reserves,” Murphy said.

Councilor Rodney Elliott, chairman of the council’s finance subcommittee, last week said he would like Lynch to put all $1.5 million toward reducing the planned tax increase because taxpayers are struggling to pay their bills. Elliott was the lone councilor to vote against the budget because of the tax increases it included.

Lynch told The Sun last week he would like to use “several hundred thousand dollars” to reduce the planned tax hike, but he is reluctant to use all of the new state funding for tax relief because of the one-time nature of the funds and other needs in the city.

[…]

The council voted last week to approve Elliott’s motion asking Lynch to develop a plan to put potential savings from any health-care agreement he works out with the city’s unions toward reducing property taxes.

Lynch said he is negotiating with city unions and hopes to reach a health-care agreement with them by mid-December to reduce the city’s health-care spending next fiscal year.

That negotiation with city unions on health care produced the savings that was looked for. I have yet to find the article where Rodney complains about putting that money into tax breaks, and not towards net school spending.

February 17, 2014

BotW: Zombie Portrait Edition

by at 10:17 am.

So the first prize is done, and the winner from last week has picked her prize out so I will be starting on it forthwith, but, there’s a chance to win every week! If you made it through last week’s marathon Council meeting…well, you are a trooper. Hopefully you had the cool beverage of your choice to keep you company.

We have some weird ones this week - the mayoral portrait issue is back, in an unfathomable motion to require that the mayor’s portrait be completed within the first three months of a term. Huh?

Of course, the school budget thing is back. We’ll be hearing about this for weeks. Apparently, some people think it’s Bernie’s “audit letter” which is patently absurd, but then again, absurd is the name of the game…funny, these asshats were never so concerned about some *decades* of past school net funding shortfalls. I’d be surprised at the hypocrisy but, who’m I kidding?

So, same rules as always. One guess per person, one person per item, and the more obscure or surprising the Blowup is the bigger the prize. Discuss!

1 MAYOR’S BUSINESS
1.1 Citations - Jack Trottier and Paul Sickinger, Seniors at Tyngsboro High School, for their community service work in collaboration with the Lowell Fire Department to collect winter coats for the homeless and those in need.

2 CITY CLERK
2.1 Minutes of City Council Meeting February 11th, for acceptance.

3 CITY AUDITOR
3.1 Communication – Paid vacation and sick leave from 1/1/2010 – 2/12/2014.

4 UTILITY PUBLIC HEARINGS
4.1 National Grid/Verizon NE – Request pole location at 59 South Whipple St.

5 COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE CITY MANAGER
5.1 Communication Summary 

Motion Responses 

(A) Motion Response - ShotSpotter 

Informational 

(B) Informational - MCC Flier - Lowell Crit Infrastr Forum of 2-24-14 
(C) Informational - Resignation Letter 

5.2 Communication-Accept Resignation of Troix Bettencourt (Hunger/Homeless Comm)

6 REPORTS (SUB / COMMITTEE, IF ANY)
6.1 Economic Development SC 02-18-14.
6.2 Wire Insp. - National Grid - Electrical Main installation on Industrial Avenue and Stevens Street. 

7 PETITIONS
7.1 Claims (1) claim for property damage.

8 CITY COUNCIL - MOTIONS
8.1 C. Leahy – Req. Rules SC consider as a recommendation that the Mayor’s portrait be completed within the first 3 months of his or her inauguration.
8.2 C. Kennedy – Req. City Council and City Mgr. discuss the letter dated January 31, 2014 from the Mass. Commission of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding School Budget shortfall.
8.3 C. Kennedy/C. Leahy – Req. Mayor create a City Council SC dedicated to working with merchants and property owners to enhance and improve the commercial environment in the Central Business District.
8.4 M. Elliott – Req. City Council discuss setting up a joint Ad Hoc SC with City Council/School Committee to initiate discussion of high school and facility assessment report.
8.5 M. Elliott – Req. City Council discuss making Galligan Rd. a one way street.

9 CITY COUNCIL - EXECUTIVE SESSION
9.1 Executive Session to discuss and release minutes of Executive Session meeting on January 21, 2014 and any other minutes that should be designated to be made public from executive sessions.
9.2 Executive Session regarding litigation report, public discussion of which could have a detrimental effect on the City’s position.
10 Time for meeting to stand adjourned.

February 13, 2014

No, No, No, NO!

by at 5:29 pm.

So the big political news this week is that Eileen Donoghue is declining to put in her resume for the City Manager position, which, insiders say, means sitting state Rep Kevin Murphy is now a shoo-in.

I cannot count all the ways that this pisses me right the hell off. This is Lowell at its absolute and utter worst. Let’s elaborate why.

First of all, supposedly, a dozen applications or so have been received so far (why has that gone public, anyway?), with another two weeks til deadline. What if we get another Lynch in the pile? Someone who is just an outstanding candidate, who nails the interview, who comes in knowing all sorts of things a city manager ought to know, like about Dept of Revenue audit letters that are being ignored, and someone who could continue this upward spiral of higher Moody’s ratings (saving taxpayer dollars), green energy and conservation (saving taxpayer dollars), continuing and building on efficiency programs (saving taxpayer dollars), and transparent, readable budgets (showing taxpayers where their money is going)? Screw “from Lowell for Lowell.” I want “protect the Lowell taxpayer and residents” not a goddamned street address and birth certificate that has Lowell at the end of it.

Second: all this bullshit talk about Donoghue or Murphy are basically the only choices the Council will consider. It’s a great way to limit the candidate pool of people willing to bother, precluding a stellar candidate from even putting an application in. Maybe that’s what Elliott, Kennedy, Belanger, Rourke, Leahy and Mercier really want, but then please stop pretending this farce of a sham of an advertised position constitutes a “nationwide search.” Seriously, do these people think that the taxpayer wants a limited candidate pool? Come on.

Third: KEVIN MURPHY IS NOT QUALIFIED. Are you all freaking nuts? I don’t care if his teeth gleam white and shiny and you like him a lot. That is not how to pick the top administrator of the city. He. Is. NOT. Qualified. And the fact that he thinks he is?? Even worse.

He said on the radio something to the effect of, “I could do the job, I ran a small business.” (A law firm consisting of him and his own family member isn’t even really that!) It took a lot of willpower not to bite my own arm off. Being a small business (or indeed, any sort of business owner), or a lawmaker (who is pretty much useless, riding on the coattails of first Panagiotakos and now, Donoghue) is NOT a qualification for running a city. OMFG.

It is NOT a political job.

It should not treated like a political job.

It is a serious, VERY tough, VERY involved management position not unlike being a CEO of a large company, but with really specific and specialized matters to attend, like union negotiations. Speaking of that, here’s how Kevin Murphy is the WORST candidate for this position…

You see, the City Manager acts on behalf of the city taxpayer in union negotiations. So, when there’s a table, and unions are sitting on one side, and the city itself is on the other, the CM is in charge of our half of the process.

Key word here is: Ne-go-ti-a-tion. Not “give the unions what they want” but “give the unions what taxpayers can afford.” Now, I’m all for taking a look at the union contracts, and making sure that our city workers are fairly compensated. But state money has been a little tough to come by these days, and the City Council refuses to let the City Manager raise the tax rates even an eensy-bit to allow for more capital investments, more police positions, or city worker raises.

You copy, unions? You wanna blame someone, blame the Council for that. I don’t see this Council getting any better on that front, not with Rodney “Across-The-Board-Cuts” Elliott as mayor. They have literally hog-tied the Manager’s hands for years on taxes and revenues, such that, despite the fact our budgets have been doing better and better, there’s not a lot of room to accommodate new spending, either in raises or in “stuff.” We’re lucky to have had the capital investments we’ve had (thanks in part to those ratings agencies giving Lowell the increased thumbs-up).

But, Mr. Kevin Murphy…well. A good lot of his clients are unions or city workers.

His representation of union clients and, perhaps more controversially, of his wife in contract negotiations with the city of Lowell, has raised questions about whether it is appropriate for a lawmaker to vote on funding for public agencies at the same time he is serving clients fighting for a piece of that funding.
[…]
Murphy’s roster of clients in his Chelmsford law practice includes a number of public-sector entities, from the Lowell Housing Authority to the Dracut School Committee.
The most controversial, however, was his decision last fall to represent Lowell’s four assistant school superintendents, including his wife, Ann Murphy.

Murphy successfully renegotiated the superintendents’ contracts and in the process secured his wife a $10,000 raise — the largest of the four — two years before her contract was set to expire.
[…]
The taint of the Lowell School Department episode followed Murphy when, earlier this year, contract negotiations between management and the bus drivers for the Lowell Regional Transit Authority grew contentious and appeared headed toward a strike vote.

Murphy represents the bus drivers’ union, which is still at an impasse in contract talks.

Now, that was in 2009, and Murphy brushed off these gray areas in state ethics laws as inconsequential, since he was a state Rep and these were local or regional matters.

Those cozy relationships, even if he leaves his law office (which his own nephew Brian Akashian will take over…License Commissioner and we’ve written about him), do not make me think he’ll be the best we can do for representing the taxpayer on local union negotiations. And then, there’s the utter insanity that nearly the entire Kevin Murphy family tree is working in the Lowell Schools. It’s so bad, he made a joke out of it at the 2010 St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.

State Rep. Kevin Murphy wanted to make sure Superintendent of School Chris Scott was clear that it was Rep. Charley Murphy of Burlington, not him who has proposed cutting state aid for education.

“So, don’t take it out on my wife, my sister, my sister-in-law, my other sister-in-law, my cousin, my cousin-in-law or my niece,” he said. “The Lowell Public Schools — or as we call them the Murphy family business.”

And this guy would, if he became City Manager, be putting together the city’s side of the budget for the Lowell School Dept? Really?? Can you count all the ways that would be ethically questionable?

I could go on quite at length the ways the conflicts of interest make him the worst candidate for this job. I’m actually beginning to wonder if he’d drag the city down quicker than John Cox did. You know, the last guy we hired who was a former state Rep with ethics problems. How long before Murphy would unravel all the good Bernie Lynch did for the city? Whether it’s through inexperience, or graft and abuse, the result is the same. How long before we eat through our own free cash…before city departments go back to the bad old days of workers doing side work for the connected or sleeping on the job on the taxpayer’s dime…which took Bernie so long to clean out? (Not that that cleaning job is completely finished.)

Aren’t we tired of this? Aren’t we ready to keep doing business for ALL of Lowell, all its residents, the connected and the unconnected alike? I know I can’t expect any better from Elliott, Belanger, Kennedy, or Rourke, but I think Rita Mercier and John Leahy could be heroes in this. If only they’d think this through, and look for the best qualified person, instead of going with the guy (they think) they know.

As for the end of this Column piece:

Assuming he goes so far as to get an interview, ha, ha, Murphy said: “I will convince any opponents that I am not the boogeyman that some people think I am.” He also insisted he does not have an “anger problem” as he’s heard some detractors say. Murphy said his work and political experience at City Hall, at the State House and as a small businessman, have provided him with the skills to be an effective city manager.

Notwithstanding that I do think he has major ethics problems…when are city leaders going to understand, it’s not about being against anyone! It’s about wanting the best candidate for the job, period, and Muphy can’t possibly be that person with the resume and experience he has. To believe he has the relevant experience is totally arrogant. Apparently Kevin Murphy is that arrogant.

Murphy vehemently denied padding his pension is one of the sole reasons he wants the job. “I’m a Lowell guy who has lived in the same neighborhood my entire life,” Murphy said. “I truly believe that serving as city manager is the best way to help the city and its people.”

No, no, no, NO! The best way to help the city and its people is to find the best municipally experienced manager for the position. Hell, Rep. Murphy isn’t really that great as a state Rep in “serving the people.” If you don’t believe me, take a look at the list of legislation coming out of his office this session, on his official state page (8 bills), compared to, say, Lunenburg’s Jen Benson (26 bills) or Marblehead’s Lori Ehrlich (21 bills).

But regardless of how good of a state Rep he might or might not be, and his obvious conflicts of interest, he simply will NOT in all likelihood be the best and most qualified person who applies for the position of Lowell’s City Manager. Anyone who claims otherwise is utterly deluded.

BotW Winner Snowday Edition!

by at 3:50 pm.

 mini Cthulhu in progressThreads cameradude Paul and I just got back in from spending half the day over at DPW and in a salt/plow truck for the TV show, which was soooo much fun and we learned so much! It’ll be fun to edit, though we got a lot of footage so it might take a bit! Hope everyone out there stays safe and stays off the roads, this afternoon the heavy snowfall started and the roads are filling as soon as they’re plowed.

This week’s Blowup of the Week winner is Nancy, who picked the agenda item: “5.1 (B) Informational - Downtown Single Stream Recycling Center.” It wasn’t a total blowup by the Council, but there must have been 40 minutes of citizens complaining about it…oy. She’s pondering her options for a Level 2 prize. Meanwhile, joe from Lowell’s mini Cthulhu is nearly finished!

February 10, 2014

A Happy Ending

by at 9:09 pm.

Normally I would say that I watched the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting tonight so you wouldn’t have to, but…if you didn’t see it, you missed out on a hell of a lot of entertainment value. I’m speaking, of course, of the massage special permit hearing for Mill No 5.

It started out with Jim Lichoulas speaking as the developer of the building. You could feel his frustration with the opposition, when he talked about how Randy Mathieu [note: name corrected] had thrown around words like “happy endings” and “human trafficking” in regards to Mill No 5 and massage tenants. Later, Randy, speaking in opposition, claimed Lichoulas was exaggerating. It was not long after that that Lichoulas’ partner spoke, and read an email from Randy with those exact accusations in it. Pure, classic political entertainment.

Couple that with Councilor Rita Mercier who spoke, confused about whether or not she was in opposition or whether or not she could produce a motion…well, I hope to get video to you soon.

As for Mercier’s time at the podium, I will say this: her confusion about whether to be in opposition stemmed from talking to people at the meeting and getting that other side of the story. You know, the side which wasn’t throwing around baseless accusations. Something she apparently did not do before putting a motion on the agenda for the Council meeting tomorrow night. *facepalm*

The ZBA impressed me with its thoughtful, respectful yet firm discussion on this matter. Seeing that all this was really much ado about made-up crap, it was a pretty long discussion. The request for special permit passed, with some minor conditions, like a three month review. If I can get you some cut-down video I will!

Speaking of Tasks

by at 1:17 pm.

Christopher of Learning Lowell has an extremely excellent post taking a look at task forces, in light of the following motion for tomorrow night’s Council meeting:

C. Belanger – Req. City Council request Mayor appoint a downtown economic development task force.

There was a lot of discussion on Facebook around this item, so Christopher starts out with quotes from that discussion. His post highlights organizations that have in interest in economic revitalization downtown, and also the history of the last 12 years of master plans and studies.

I very much suggest Christopher’s post be required reading for the entire City Council before tomorrow night’s meeting…it’s that good. There is a ton of context and some good, solid suggestions. It raises very important questions, and I think the Councilor who can speak credibly to those issues will be light years ahead of everyone else. If a Councilor want to sound really intelligent, they should bring a copy of his post to the City Council meeting tomorrow night!

February 9, 2014

BotW: Buyback or Payback?

by at 9:22 pm.

It’s that time of the week again! This Tuesday’s agenda looks quite entertaining. Besides the motions I’ve already gone through, there are a couple more I’d like to poke holes in–er, I mean, take a look at, if I have time to post about them before the meeting. But meanwhile, place your guesses in comments, same rules as always: one guess per person, one agenda item per guess, and the more obscure or unpredictable the item, the bigger the prize.

joe from lowell I posted in the comments of the last BotW results post, answering your question about your prize. :) I deem you ineligible for this week’s BotW - let someone else win! Meanwhile, confirm your choice for your prize and I’ll get on that!

PS - let us hope they don’t take this Executive Session out of order again. Please, let them have learned their lesson…

This week’s agenda:

1 MAYOR’S BUSINESS
1.1 Citations – (1)Stephen Paris and (1)Matthew Sheehan; City of Lowell, 911 Dispatchers who assisted residents on Cabot St. December 12, 2013, out of a burning building, while off duty. 
Citations – (1)Domenique Riviera and (1)Noelia Aquino; Lifeguards for lives they saved last summer. 

2 CITY CLERK
2.1 Minutes of City Council Meeting February 4th and Special Meeting February 3rd, for acceptance.

3 UNFINISHED BUSINESS
3.1 Order-Discontinue a portion of Worcester Rd

4 GENERAL PUBLIC HEARINGS
4.1 Misc. - University of Massachusetts Lowell, Request storage of 3,200 gallons of Diesel Fuel II Liquids aboveground @ 220 Pawtucket Street.
4.2 Ordinance-Create new position and salary (part-time, temporary Literacy Director) Library
4.3 Ordinance-Amend position and salary Director of Elections to (Director of Elections/Municipal Hearing Officer)

5 COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE CITY MANAGER
5.1 Informational 

(A) Informational - New Economic Development Projects 
(B) Informational - Downtown Single Stream Recycling Center 
(C) Informational - Abandonment of Worcester Road north of Surrey Lane
5.2 Out of State Travel - Parking

6 VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
6.1 Vote-Temporary License Agreement (299 Tanner St)

7 ORDERS FROM THE CITY MANAGER
7.1 Order-60 day trial

8 REPORTS (SUB / COMMITTEE, IF ANY)

9 PETITIONS
9.1 Claims (2) claims for property damage.
9.2 Misc. - Mary Lallas, Lowell, MA request to address City Council Re:157 West Forest St.
9.3 Misc. – Atty. James Flood for Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Consalvo request zoning amendment 1291 Middlesex St.

10 CITY COUNCIL - MOTIONS
10.1 C. Kennedy – Req. Finance SC recommend appropriate salary for Acting City Manager and Acting City Clerk.
10.2 C. Belanger – Req. City Council request Mayor appoint a downtown economic development task force.
10.3 C. Mercier – Req. City Mgr. have proper department provide a report as to current status and future proposed plans for Mill #5 building on Jackson St. located in the Hamilton Canal District.
10.4 C. Mercier – Req. City Mgr. have proper department explore the possibility of establishing a portion of McDermott Reservoir on Beacon St. as a site for a portion of a Community Garden for the Friends of the Reservoir.
10.5 C. Mercier – Req. City Mgr. have proper department inspect glass in windows in all downtown buildings for safety.
10.6 M. Elliott – Req. City Council discuss ordinance pertaining to accumulated annual vacation and sick leave policy and refer matter to Personnel SC.
10.7 M. Elliott – Req. City Auditor provide report on costs of accumulated annual vacation and sick leave for employees who have resigned or have retired since January 1, 2014.

11 CITY COUNCIL - EXECUTIVE SESSION
11.1 Executive Session to discuss and release minutes of Executive Session meeting on January 21, 2014 and any other minutes that should be designated to be made public from executive sessions.
11.2 Executive Session regarding litigation report, public discussion of which could have a detrimental effect on the City’s position.

Panic over TEH SEX!

by at 9:55 am.

On further examination of the agenda for Tuesday, one that appears to be fairly innocuous is this:

C. Mercier – Req. City Mgr. have proper department provide a report as to current status and future proposed plans for Mill #5 building on Jackson St. located in the Hamilton Canal District.

Though usually anything like this brought up by Rita Mercier has some sort of “someone called me and complained” attached to it, it seems like a good discussion we should have, as Mill No 5 comes online and artists, craftspeople, and businesses move in and open up shop.

However, the most likely explanation for this motion from Rita is that someone did call her and complain, given what is happening behind the scenes. I happen to know the story, so I thought I would elucidate. You see, this entire motion is most likely all about…”TEH SEX.”

The back history is this: Mill No 5 is soon to go in front of the ZBA for a special permit to allow massage parlors in their building. My understanding is that there’s at least one tenant lined up who wants to offer those services there. Now, next to where Mill No 5 is being created, there are condos which were developed by the same owners (Lichoulas). There is, apparently, a couple of people who live in the condos who have convinced themselves, apropos of nothing and without any evidence, that said massage parlors are not just for relaxing massages…but you know, wink wink, one of those types of establishments. (Dick Howe also believes this motion is likely made on behalf of this complaint in his weekly review.)

It’s patently ridiculous, but these people are going around in a panic, claiming that there will be happy ending massages, a porno theatre (Mill No 5 is building out a 200-seat theatre, which is not a porno theatre, but an arts/indy theatre) and that the neighborhood will become some sort of Red Light district. They have gone to all the neighbors, surrounding businesses, to the ZBA and to City Councilors with their claim.

Personally, I think bringing this motion forward (I’m 99.9% sure these people talked to Rita and this is why this is on the agenda) makes Rita Mercier look like a fool - because with a little research, or perhaps talking to the developer, other residents of that building, or to Bernie Lynch’s office or DPD, or heck, the ZBA, Rita could have realized that this zOMG SEX PARLOR madness is the brainchild of fringe type people who are (at best) making assumptions with zero evidence. Look, I’m all for citizen engagement, but if every crank or crazy in the city with some loony opposition to something that will never exist got the ear of the Council, all we’d be doing is fielding these types of motions all night, every week.

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