Left In Lowell

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March 19, 2014

WaPo Finds Lowell

by at 3:46 pm.

Nice little write up in the Lifestyle - Food section of the Washington Post website. I found it via Facebook. It serves up a taste of Little Cambodia!

Several locations are mentioned, which is really awesome. Let’s bring in the food adventurers! :)

LTC Public Input Meeting on Website

by at 1:34 pm.

LTC is going to be doing its website over this year, and we’re (I say we because I’m on the board and helping them) hosting a public input meeting tonight at 7pm at LTC. Everyone is invited to come - whether you are a member, producer, or just a member of the public who wants to contribute to the bettering of the services offered by LTC’s website!

You can RSVP on Facebook here, or by going through LTC’s website, and if you can’t make it, please take a quick moment to note you can’t make it and fill out the survey.

Hope to see you there!!

Sacred Golden Cows

by at 7:19 am.

I’ve long held the opinion that the so-called Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is a somewhat useless, taxpayer-sucking organization. I’ve gotten to that place by talking a lot to very smart people who are in the position to know better than me.

This is no knock on marketing, of course. Hey, I’m in the web and graphic design business after all. I know marketing works. And we need to develop great events, and market them, bringing people in from outside the city to spend money. Changing a decades-long perception about Lowell is no small feat, and I think we ought to spend some minor amount of money on it; the economic benefits of that are clear. I just do not see that there has been even a dollar of economic activity for every dollar spent on the CVB (in other words, not even sure if we’re breaking even). I think it’s a big waste of money. Could the CVB be a resource? Sure, if it were well run, it might be. But it’s not. I don’t see a return for the city from all the taxpayer dollars spent on that organization. It is, however, run by a well-connected person who has friends on City Council.

Now, I don’t know if the restauranteurs that Jack quotes from old articles about the CVB and the local option meals tax revenue are merely short-sighted, or if they are alyoop-ing the CVB for other reasons, but regardless, I wanted to bring this up because we all know the City Council will not have the debate about whether or not the CVB is actually a good, dollar-for-dollar investment for the city. I mean, when the CVB posts a Facebook photo of the Tyngsboro bridge with the line, “Good morning Lowell!” you have to question the validity of the entire operation. Also, they’ve been part and parcel of the gravy train that was Winterfest; with that fundraising money flowing through the CVB as the “fiscal agent,” they get matching funds from the state.

Keep in mind, that out of the 16 Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus in the state, Lowell is the only city or town to subsidize a CVB directly with money from its own city budget. This has been brought up before under Bernie Lynch, but I know a lot of City Councilors have notoriously short memories.

We have no marketing data to actually measure in any way what the dollar value the CVB brings the city for its contribution as far as I know. Metrics? Pshaw!

Of course, Rita et pals didn’t like the reductions in Bernie’s budgets for what the city gave to the CVB, so expect Lynch’s previous CVB budgetary reduction to a yearly $25K to to be reversed. Of course, Lynch wanted it eliminated but the hue and outcry of the friends of CVB head Deb Belanger was hot and furious - which is one way to be sure this is a GOB move and not a smart one. Bernie was no dummy about where to invest our taxpayer dollars, but the City Council certainly is.

Good money thrown after bad…”that’s a bad way to fly.”

March 18, 2014

Another Hiatus

by at 4:41 pm.

So, until we know the lay of the land with a permanent City Manager, with such pathetic agendas with few motions (this week it’s 5), Blowup of the Week is on vacation. Here’s the agenda.

However, note this:

9.4 C. Belanger - Req. City Mgr. provide a report on income produced on .75 additional meals tax enacted July 1, 2010.

Is Belanger going to use his position as city councilor every week to attack/direct policies that affect his own business, or just most weeks, instead? *rolls eyes*

I Forgot the Best!

by at 8:13 am.

I did have a video of Bernie’s so-called “impromptu” jokes at the end of the breakfast…I can’t believe I forgot to put it at the end. I was going to say, leave the best for last (to go with the worst for first) but instead, leave the best for the next day!

I must be half sleepwalking!

So without much more ado….heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Bernie!

March 17, 2014

Yuks, and Yucks (Updated)

by at 1:29 pm.

Well, I did it. I waded into the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast for the first time ever. I got to sit at the “citizen media group” table, the sign for which, according to seat mate and fellow blogger Greg Page (who was scoring the joke brackets a couple seats away), drew a lot of questions as people walked by.

I took the liberty of shooting a few videos and posting on YouTube. My camera angle was bad and so was my use of the camera, which I was still figuring out how to film video with. Apologies in advance. Luckily, there is an official Channel 22 taping coming eventually and I highly recommend catching that if you want better footage.

It’s all on the flip: (more…)

March 13, 2014

Threads Episode With Bernie

by at 10:29 am.

Two days before Bernie Lynch rode off into the sunset, Threads (my LTC show) guest host Stacie Hargis moderated a roundtable interview with Bernie Lynch, along with Mimi Parseghian and Joe Smith, both active Lowell residents. The online version is in three parts; a retrospective look at Bernie’s tenure; a discussion about what Lowell might be facing in the near and middle-term future; and more general economic development issues. Here they are:

March 11, 2014

Learn to Code for Websites!

by at 10:26 am.

The 3-session class I teach at LTC, Intensive Web Design, is starting this Thursday, March 13, with sessions on subsequent Thursdays on the 20th and 27th. The class goes from 6:30-9:30 PM (the website says 6-9 but we always do 6:30 til 9:30 when LTC closes). We could use some more students for this session! Learn web coding from scratch, no previous web experience needed! Must have basic Mac skills.

We run through a lot of material - a class of this intensity would take up most of a semester at a university or community college. We can get through material faster because the class size is small. Fee for LTC members is $50 with $25 book fee, or $75 with $25 book fee for nonmembers. It is WELL worth the cost!

Here’s the class description:

INTENSIVE WEB DESIGN 1

This 3-session class is an intense, comprehensive HTML/CSS class for those who are really serious about web design. It is taught using DreamWeaver, but you will be able to create your website in other programs. (4 student minimum)

Date & Time: Thursday, March 13, 20, 27 - 6:00-9:00 PM [note - I typically start at 6:30 and end at 9:30pm]
Fee: $50 (non-member $75) plus $25 materials fee for textbook.
To sign up using PayPal, please visit http://ltc.org/content/current-class-schedule and pay the “Intermediate/Advanced workshop fee”
If you’d prefer to pay by cash or check, please email gpolites@ltc.org to reserve a spot.

March 10, 2014

BotW, Time of Possession Style

by at 6:12 pm.

So…our first Bernie-less Council meeting, and there are only. Three. Total. Motions. All of them from Jim Milinazzo.

If that doesn’t prove to you that at least 50% of the City Council’s motions during this current term (and previous, too, probably) were because certain elements of the Council wanted to smack Bernie around as much as possible, I don’t know what will. BotW might be in jeopardy - if the Council continues to go easy on Geary, each other, and the new guy once a CM is hired…we’ll have to come up with another reason to mock and deride the city council meetings and agendas. Mock and deride we will. This Council deserves no less. But the format might change…it certainly has to, tonight. Keep reading, because we’re still doing a Blowup of the Week contest!

Here are the three lonely motions:
9.1 C. Milinazzo - Req. Acting City Mgr. have the Traffic Engineer look into the feasibility of installing a 3-way Stop Sign at the corner of Boylston and Lawrence Street.
9.2 C. Milinazzo - Req. City Council consider re-starting the search for a new City Manager in light of the search process being compromised by the release of applicants’ names.
9.3 C. Milinazzo - Req. the Acting City Manager to have the Traffic Engineer explore the possibility of installing a crosswalk at the corner of Fayette/Concord/Andover Streets.

Since we’re down to three motions, and it’s quite clear which of these three are going to be a knockdown dragged out knucklefest, we can’t do a contest on picking items for BotW. So…we’re declaring #9.2 the motion to watch, and if you want to win, you must pick the total amount of time that this motion will take up in the meeting (from the start of the first reading of the motion, to the last words of the acting City Clerk on when the final vote is tallied).

The person who is the closest to the total time, without going over, will win the prize. Yes, that’s right, we’re treating this week’s Council meeting like guessing the number of jellybeans in a giant jar. Sounds right at the level of most of the members of the CC, don’t you think?

In case you want to see the full agenda, I’ve copied it below the fold. OK, make your guesses, by 6:30pm tomorrow night!! (more…)

Not So Much Leaks, As Pawtucket Falls in Spring

by at 4:04 pm.

I hope most of Lowell is as disgusted as I am about the City Manager search name leaks. First, a number of names went public before the Councilors even put in their votes for finalists. Elliott, who was a consummate leaker in the 2006 round of resumes, supposedly had nothing to do with these. I have my suspicions - it likely was a city councilor - but it’s totally speculation. Those names appear to have been leaked to Chris Scott of the Sun.

That type of leak is completely damaging to those candidates, who had an expectation of privacy in applying for our City Manager position. It damages their current positions for their employers to know they were seeking to go elsewhere; and all for naught if they do not make the finalist list. It’s like 10 year olds are freaking running the show. I can’t even express how frustrating this process has become. No professionals in their right minds will apply to Lowell’s other positions or future CM/Auditor or whatever searches. Never mind that this whole damn game has been up to Christian Hill in shenanigans to begin with, with the “fix” gossip by the Sun and some of WCAP’s commentators.

Now, today, the six finalists were leaked on Twitter by the Cub Reporter. I won’t link, you can find it yourself if you want, but of course, Murphy and Ramirez are on the list, as well as four more. (Does it really matter who they are? Do we honestly think they were included because there will be a genuine and honest debate about the best candidate for CM?)

Given that the Cub is involved in the second round of leaking, I would put money on his joined-at-the-hip giggle partner Rodney Elliott. He might not have leaked the first round, but I’d bet money on him not protesting his innocence in this second round. I swear to god, these two are like a married couple. I was at Lynch’s final meeting, and had to make a phone call, so I went far around the corners so as not to bother anyone, and as I was walking back, who passes by me but Rodney and Lyle like they were going off to make out in a corner. Not joking, that’s what it reminded me of.

Rita Mercier, on the radio earlier today, was pretty hot under the collar, understandably. Question is, did all the candidate finalists get notification before the cubbie got his gossip? I think it’d be a good thing if someone like Rita asked that question.

What a hoax this whole thing has been. No good outcome can come from such an unprofessional set of circumstances. This City Council is as bad as was predicted. I was hoping that the naysayers were wrong, that this wouldn’t be as bad as we thought, but…it’s worse.

BotW will be different this week, but I will post about that in a bit.

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