Left In Lowell

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March 10, 2014

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.

January 14, 2014

Council Votes Against Narrow Candidate Pool!

by at 6:28 pm.

I’m watching the City Council Special Meeting to discuss and decide on the process for hiring a new City Manager. One item that popped up was worrisome. Kennedy brought forth the notion to “be up front” in the advertisement for the position and state there would be no contract. He made a motion for this in the meeting.

As you know, a lot hinges on this question, so this test was pivotal.

The usual suspects lined up on either side - Kennedy, Rourke, Belanger, and Elliot (presumably, he didn’t speak on this because he’s the chair) for putting this language in the ad, and Bill Samaras, Bill Martin, and Milinazzo against doing this, as it would “limit the pool of candidates” willing to apply. They brought up the fact that the pool of qualified candidates is already small enough as it is, and they also made the point they think a contract is a good idea.

The arguments on the other side were awful. One that needs addressing is, someone (Rourke? Or Belanger? - ed’s note: it was Rourke, as Dick’s notes show) tried to make the point that since the current Manager was leaving before the end of his contract, it’s obvious that the contract did no good for Lowell. How wrong they are.

I made this point before, but let’s reiterate: without a contract obligating Lynch to give 60 days notice, he could have left yesterday. Now, Lynch is a good professional and probably wouldn’t do this, but if he had no contract, he could have. Or, he could have given less notice; a month, or two weeks - almost as bad. Suffice it to say, with no CFO, with the assistant CM leaving in February, and budget season coming up rapidly, this would have totally hosed the city. So yeah, the contract actually saved our collective asses, even if you just count that one thing.

Also, just about every other city and town has a contract for their top administrator. (Someone made the point that in a strong mayor system, you essentially have a contract in that a mayor serves at least until the next election, unless in the rare case they resign mid-term.) Of course, Rita talked about Dracut and a [former] long term manager there, but let’s face it - Lowell is a whole different animal. Given the publicity around the CM position and Lowell’s history, and the nastiness that has permeated the entire last election and its aftermath (including last week’s meeting), and Elliott’s apparent willingness to violate at least the spirit of Plan E, Lowell is skating on thin ice. We’re already going to have trouble attracting the best and brightest applicants with a good solid resume.

So, it was with baited breath we awaited the two in the middle to speak. First, it was Rita, who quickly made the point that she didn’t want to limit the pool of candidates by using such language in the advertisement. Angels sang and light came down from the heavens. Thank you, Rita Mercier!

Leahy didn’t speak until nearly the end, but he reiterated Rita’s point of view. More angels and light! Thank you, John Leahy!

So the motion went down, 5-4. This doesn’t mean we’re in the clear - we have yet to see how many great applicants apply, and who gets to be in the final five for public interview, after all. It doesn’t mean that a contract will be offered, as it should be for the right candidate. But it does mean that a majority of this Council does not want to signal to the CM job market that they are unwilling to be above board and reasonable.

I would like to thank Rita Mercier and John Leahy again for their vote. It seems minor but it’s not. I think if you feel the same way, you should call them and thank them.

Update: Dick has his notes up about the Special Meeting already. That’s right, the bloggers are on the job!

January 7, 2014

Lynch Resigning

by at 8:49 pm.

I suspect a lot of fallout from this announcement, but City Manager Bernie Lynch - who wanted to do this in closed session to tell the Councilors first, but was denied that because the same City Councilors who are at odds with transparency most of the time, tonight insisted on it - read his letter of resignation in open session on the floor, effective March 10th.

It was quite a bombshell for, well, pretty much everyone.

But…who can blame him? The hostile work environment - which as my husband put it, was telegraphed to us tonight - is not a pleasant thing to deal with week after week, and it was only going to get worse. No where else does an employee put up with as much abuse from his boss as Lynch has lived with, and it’s amazing he put up with it this long, frankly.

Let’s face it: this particular City Council really doesn’t deserve Lynch. Its majority doesn’t know what it has, is blind to reality, and frankly, I’m not that hopeful for a GOOD hiring process. After all, newcomer Belanger ran on “from Lowell, for Lowell.” That doesn’t bode well for a nationwide search for Lynch’s replacement, does it?

As for his legacy - which I hope is not undone with the next hire, it only takes a John Cox a few years to screw it all up - has been to put the city on amazing financial footing, to push forward many projects even in the midst of a recession and tight budgets, and professional, transparent city government the likes of which Lowell had not seen in a very long time.

So long Bernie, and thanks for all the fish…

Edit: for more on the meeting, Dick has his notes

November 24, 2013

Our Best to Councilor Leahy

by at 9:13 am.

Councilor Leahy apparently is recovering from a mild heart attack.

Our best to the Councilor in his recovery.

November 21, 2013

Going Nuclear

by at 12:10 pm.

Right now, after a few more tries at getting a judicial nominee through and being filibustered, Senator Reid is finally done with the obstructionism and is going nuclear on the filibuster for judicial nominees.

The current vacancy crisis of our judiciary is often unremarked by the media, but it has very big consequences for the justice system we all live under. Republicans want to claim Obama is too slow to nominate, but with them using the filibuster to block so many nominees - qualified, good nominations, we’re not talking about political hacks, and even the Republicans can’t always find a good objection other than it being something Obama initiated - our judicial system has been hampered for years.

The concept of “going nuclear” on the filibuster was, of course, invented by Republicans over the few filibusters of some very shady Bush nominees (people who were not qualified…remember, Bush at first wanted Harriet freaking Miers for the SCOTUS, and even his own party was like, wahhhhh?). But now the media is forgetting their history (shocker) and is saying this is a Democratic idea. Well, no, actually, thanks for playing.

But if this is the only way to fill our judicial vacancies and actually get the people’s work done, let’s do it. If and when Republicans become the majority, these rules will apply to Dems as a minority as well. Let each party own their own damn governing without a filibuster, if the rules are going to be abused in such a manner.

PS - why yes, I am streaming C-SPAN right now, if you must ask…

Update the vote to change the rules just passed. For all judicial nominees except SCOTUS, a simple majority will confirm them! Finally, a Senate that will (somewhat) function.

April 5, 2013

Two Mayor Murphy Memos in Four Days

by at 5:00 pm.

The first one you can read on gerrynutterlowell.com: Statement from Mayor Patrick Murphy

The second memo, as released: (more…)

February 6, 2013

Winterfest Postponed

by at 2:45 pm.

Due to, well, the proclivities of winter, Winterfest has officially been postponed two weeks by the City of Lowell.


Pending Storm and Crowd Safety Force the City of Lowell and WinterFest Committee to Delay the Annual Celebration Until February 22 & 23

This year’s WinterFest is in brief HIBERNATION! Earlier today, February 6th, the WinterFest Committee made the difficult decision to postpone the 13th Annual Lowell WinterFest event due to an extreme winter weather advisory that calls for well over a foot of snow to fall in the immediate area over the next several days.

The WinterFest Committee is currently hard at work on logistics for this change in schedule, and encourages the public to visit Lowell.org and LowellWinterFest.org for program updates as they happen. As of today, all the major components of the event — the Microbrew Competition, the Soup Bowl Competition, Club Celsius Live Music Tent, and the National Human Dogsled Competition — are still taking place as planned.

For now, we hope you will save the NEW dates for the 13th Annual WinterFest and please plan on joining us in Lowell in TWO weeks!

The 13th Annual Lowell WinterFest
New Dates! Friday, February 22 & Saturday, February 23

Visit LowellWinterFest.org for event updates!

January 4, 2013

Color Me Surprised

by at 2:45 pm.

Friend of the blog (and good friend) Cliff Krieger has been nominated by CM Lynch for the License Commission, as Jen Myers writes at the official blog of the Mayor. You might recall, the License Commission had been under fire for sitting on its hands after the downtown rioting at the club at Fortunato’s and other violence and vandalism issues stemming from bars and clubs. Since then, both Bayliss and Weicker have resigned. (Not without a bit of a fuss.)

As Jen says, Cliff had been planning to run for the Lowell School Committee, and though I’m not sure what this does to those plans, you couldn’t get a better person to oversee a very sticky and previously controversial situation. Cliff will listen to the recommendations of the police chief, of residents, businesses…and of the club owners themselves, too, but in a proportional way. He is a conservative in the truest sense of that word - he wants our city to be welcoming, and remain so, for the many people who coexist downtown, like residents, consumers, and the non-club business owners who are the ones who find the aftermath of overserved drunkards at their doorstep on Monday mornings.

Contrary to (some) popular rumor, Cliff and I (and Jack, and whoever) are not all big giant conspirators with Lynch behind the scenes, and this took me by surprise, albeit a pleasant one. According to Jen, this spot had to go to a Republican, and I can’t think of a better person to help clean up the mess.

Also being appointed, to the LHA, is Samkhann Khoeun. I don’t know Samkhann, but Jen has more bio info at her blog post and he seems to be a community leader with some gravitas, and it’s great to see some diversity on our boards. Good luck to both!

December 15, 2012

Journalists Are Hard To Come By, These Days

by at 10:28 am.

Sometimes the world makes you heartsick.

Eighteen children murdered
Posted by Police Line on December 15th, 2012

That’s what I read about earlier today, and then I looked up, and there sat my 4-month-old daughter staring at me.

When she saw me looking back at her she smiled. That’s the thing; kids have no idea about all the things that we do.

I grabbed Charlotte and carried her around the house a bit, holding her extra tight against my chest.

And then Chris Scott called and asked if I would interrupt my vacation and go to Connecticut to help The Sun’s parent company, Digital First Media, cover the shootings in Newtown, CT.

I believe in what I do. I believe the worst this world has to offer us has to be documented, thought about, reported graphically, and never ignored or forgotten.

I made sure it was okay with my family, I hugged Charlotte, kissed her, told her I loved her, and left.

The comments are closed. Please follow Rob Mills over at The Lowell Sun and share your thoughts with him. He can work with them better than most.

November 30, 2012

New Data Analyist…and Assistant HR Director

by at 10:04 am.

Since we heard the news that Michael Herbert was snatched away for a new job in Newton (”Director of Performance Management”…come on…is that some sort of promotion or something?) ;) we have been waiting with baited breath for who his replacement would be. (OK, I have been waiting with baited breath, as have data geeks across the city). Wait no longer! Via Jen Myers (Mayor Aide Extraordinaire), it’s Conor Baldwin:

Conor has been working in HR for the past 2+ years implementing the City’s MUNIS personnel data system and played a key role in our implementing our change of health insurance. Before coming to the HR Department he was employed by Action for Boston Community Development as a Mediation Specialist. He also worked in my office as an Intern during 2007/8 assisting with the initial start-up of the Stat program working with other Massachusetts communities in setting up the MassStat network, investigating software programs, and preparing preliminary performance measurements for department activities. He holds a BA from UMass Lowell in History and an MA from Umass Lowell in Regional Economic and Social Development. Conor was also a participant in the Lowell Plan Public Matters program.

But wait, there’s more! Familiar face and longtime Lynch Executive Assistant Donna McIntosh is moving into the Assistant HR Director position.

Donna, who has been the City Manager’s Executive Assistant for the past 5+ years brings 13+ years of municipal experience to this position. Prior to serving as the EA in Lowell she served in a similar position in Chelmsford. In these positions she handled a variety of responsibilities managing the flow of communication from the Manager’s office, assignment of tasks to City staff, interfacing with citizens and businesses, and special projects. Before assuming these positions Donna served for several years as a Personnel Specialist in the Town of Chelmsford managing all aspects of the human resource function including recruitment and hiring, administration of benefits, and support for labor negotiations. Donna holds a BA in English from UMass Amherst and is currently completing a Certificate Program in Local Government Leadership and Management from Suffolk University. She also participated in the Municipal Management Program through the UMass Boston Collins Center and was a participant in the Lowell Plan Public Matters Program

Congrats to both. Donna has been an excellent person to work with through the years…always responsive and polite. I don’t believe I’ve met Conor (though I have a horrid memory for names and faces, so if I have, I apologize) but I look forward to seeing what he can do. Geeks everywhere are counting on you!

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