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Left In Lowell » Data Bytes

Left In Lowell

Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs

2013 Candidate Questionnaire Responses!

November 5, 2013

Tales of Turnout

by at 1:00 pm.

First, I would like to draw your attention to the kind and inspirational thoughts of Paul Marion:

I am so encouraged by the many photos of campaign volunteers, especially so many younger people, that have been posted during this campaign season in Lowell, Mass. We don’t know what the results will be tonight after 8 pm, but I have to believe that our civic culture has been transfused with goodness in the past ten months. Individuals with the courage to put themselves forward as candidates help to renew the political system in each cycle. Those who volunteer to work in the campaigns, those who write checks to support the efforts, those who study the candidates’ records and policy positions, those who report on the process, and those who vote—all of the citizens who “engage” make our democracy stronger. When you vote today, look forward, look upward, look deeply into the community as you make your selections. Today, Election Day, we give the consent of the governed.

Second, a rally cry from #juicegirl

“In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote,” David Foster Wallace.

Next, a report from the field:

Joe Says:
November 5th, 2013 at 12:20 pm e
Ward 7-1 in the acre had about 110 votes total in the prelim. They are already at 90. That’s a pleasant jump.

Here, is a comparison, Precinct by Precinct, of the very high turnout of 2009 to the very low turnout of 2011.

Lastly, some data for context. What does turnout look like, this century.

November 4, 2013

Dedicated to “The Mayor of Coxville” - marcus vinicus

by at 2:20 pm.

marcus vinicius Says:
November 4th, 2013 at 11:31 am e
got flyer at my door for gitchier, {the sleeper in this race
take derek mitchell and stick a fork in him–hes done, and stacy too., prediction—-leahy and lorrey –out
belanger and gitcshier in.

Our anonymous fiend is brilliant. Bringing up a useless scrum that he/she can only lose.

Both Belanger & Gitschier have proposed burning up the City’s reserves.

It took some prodding from our new friend, Joe, but I went and found this morsel:

From 2006,

LOWELL — The state Department of Revenue has placed the city on a short list of communities across the state with “acute fiscal issues,” due primarily to a lack of budget forecasting and “poorly planned” finances.
DOR Deputy Commissioner Gerard Perry told City Manager Bernie Lynch about the agency’s concerns in an Aug. 10 visit to City Hall.
During the visit, Lynch learned for the first time that on Jan. 3, the DOR sent former City Manager John Cox a letter outlining its concerns. Lynch took over as manager last Thursday.
DOR spokeswoman Lydia Hill said Lowell is under an “audit requirement.”
Asked to elaborate, Hill said, “There are several indications up there that have prompted us to keep a closer eye on city finances. City finances seemed poorly planned and there seems to have been a deficiency in budget planning and budget forecasting.”
Those indications are:
* Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the city’s bond rating by one step in March, from A2 to A3. The A3 rating is still among the highest in the city’s history.
* The city has continually used its once-deep cash reserves to balance the annual budget and to restrain huge tax increases. That practice is a key reason why Moody’s downgraded the bond rating.-snip

The state is particularly concerned about the continued use of reserves to balance the budget, Lynch said.
“In essence, the city has created a structural deficit by using these monies to fund ongoing costs,” he said. “The risk of all these actions is that the city will not be able to maintain current service levels or that decisions may be made to build budgets on faulty assumptions of true revenues and expenditure needs.”
Lynch and City Councilor Rodney Elliott said Lowell’s inclusion on the DOR’s audit requirement list amounts to a watch list.
“We are certainly under the microscope of the DOR and we don’t need to be there,” said Elliott. “It’s clear to me we were left in the dark by the previous administration.”
Cox could not be reached for comment.

Keep talking, marcus. Your brain wizardry is potent mojo.

PS. I dig this retort:

joe from Lowell Says:
November 4th, 2013 at 1:53 pm e
“take derek mitchell and stick a fork in him–hes done, and stacy too., prediction—-leahy and lorrey –out
belanger and gitcshier in.”

You write exactly like the people who told me Mitt Romney Is Surging, and This Is Great News For John McCain.

October 24, 2013

Rourke is “Anti …. Contract.” Bah!

by at 2:48 pm.

Dan Rourke doesn’t say much, but when he does …

As for the talk about being anti-administration, Rourke said: “Where does that come from anyway?”
He then answered his own question: it’s because he opposes contracts fo city managers.
“Hey, I’ve only met Bernie Lynch one or two times, but I think he is doing a good job on the finances, and that is one of the most important things a city manager does. Just because I am anti-contract doesn’t mean I am anti-manager. I have no preconceived notions. I’m hoping I have a chance to work with him.”

I was wondering where John Leahy got his talking points from.

Whatever brain trust is stuffing Leahy and Rourke (Tipa is that you?!) better start burning the midnight oil. Not only do these folks vote for municipal Union contracts like they are going out of style, they won’t say SHIT when we are talking about giving contracts to School Dept higher ups? Or, the Top Cop? Will they argue to put the Superintendent of Police back in the Civil Service? Meaning, protected under the Union book.

How is it, with a straight face, a guy like Rourke can say he thinks a City Manager should be an ‘at will’ employee, when City Councilors cannot be recalled? Won’t @dannyballgame be given a 2 year contract, via election? How’s that?

We are stuck with a City Councillor for 2 years; no if, ands or buts. However, giving a City Manager a two year contract, that can be revoked on any Tuesday night; is somehow taboo?

Utter bullshit.

October 20, 2013

A Blogger’s Sin

by at 1:11 pm.

Thou shall not impede The Sun’s meddling in local affairs.

In the role of “activist newspaper,” The Sun is legend.

In the wait-your-turn political culture of Lowell and nearby Lawrence, Kerry was a carpetbagger trying to cherrypick a seat in Congress.

In the general election campaign, Kerry was lashed relentlessly by The Sun, which questioned his patriotism, his loyalty to the district, and his financial backers. He blew a huge lead and lost to the Republican nominee, Paul W. Cronin, a former state representative who had served on Morse’s staff.

Suddenly, the fast track to political glory vanished beneath the feet of the war hero turned war protester. …


October 15, 2013

Mary Burns Is Not A Shrinking Violet

by at 10:32 pm.

After the Kabuki blitz by C.Elliott and his crooked sidekick C. Ditto, we got some aftermath on Facebook:

Fact checking? Hmmmm … I can do that, too!

Mary Says:
August 12th, 2011 at 5:44 pm e
I tried to respond to Gerry on his blog but unfortunately he told me in an email that he will not post my response. Because this issue was brought up here as well I felt I could not leave it hanging without a response. Gerry explained that he had a bad day at work and took it out on me. I’m pretty sure an apology followed by an excuse is not actually an apology.

I initially was going to post the actual emails but that would make me no better than Gerry. Here is what I tried to post to his blog. It may be slightly different because I edited it further after I had copied it and sent it to my email. But it’s 99% the same. I tried to keep it somewhat light hearted in spite of the vitriol he spewed.

I hope this will put an end to it. I know some will comment that I am too hard on Gerry. Go back and read his comment to me and consider again if this isn’t well deserved. I will not be back to his site again. He can take comfort in that.

I have been extremely busy with my business and have not really had time to read over all the contents in the blogs in over a week. Just a cursory look here and there. Only to return and find out I’m a whore. Who knew? I must say truly unbelievable. Luckily no-one has started emailing me asking for sexual favors. Although now that I’m connected with an STD I guess that’s most likely out of the question. There goes my chance at becoming a successful prostitute. And I was this close to making a career move.

You are truly not cut out for this type of banter. I guess it is all true what they say on the other blogs. You are intellectually weak. And here I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. Alas, Mary is now proven wrong. Although I have no plans to resort to a full fledged melt down because I was wrong like you managed to accomplish.

Of all the things I’ve written this simple statement is the one that sends you over the edge? Really? Too funny. Had I only known I would have mentioned you were wrong so much sooner to expose you for the type of person you really are. Your complete disdain for woman is now etched in cyberspace for all to see through eternity. You are officially part of the “he man woman haters club” (see Little Rascals for context…Gerry, that means explaining of a word, meaning, or event) All I can say is… my work here is done.


(bold mine)

In the diary referenced above, I did note a follow up discussion I had with Gerry:

I talked with Gerry today. We where both on City Life. He sincerely regretted losing his cool. To err is human…..

I don’t know the pain of Mary Burns. Was it more than the pain she regularly inflicts?

October 11, 2013

CM Lynch: “11 new patrolmen coming”

by at 4:10 pm.

In a diary, down blog, CM Lynch responds to considerations/perceptions of LiL commenters. I’ve pulled the Manager’s comment, out & up, to give it broader presentation. Of course, in a stand alone fashion, it is a bit out of context. So, if you’d like, please click HERE to get the full scope.

Suffice to say, the CM’s remarks are engaged in the topics currently floating in the Bubble, as the City election approaches, Nov. 5th. #GOTV

Staying out of all of the other back and forth that I shouldn’t be involved with….to Joe’s points which I think are legitimate. First the quick one, I’m not aware of anyone in the professional municipal management world that has moved into the world of finance (e.g. Wall Street) though I am aware of a couple that went to a rating agencies but that was more for their knowledge of municipal finance as they were Treasurers. Career Managers pretty much stay till retirement and/or go into consulting, teaching, interim work, or doing government relations. On the issue of how big should reserves be…the standard is between 5-10%, though some communities go beyond. I’d like Lowell to get a bit higher than our current level but certainly not at the expense of services that are required. A more pressing issue is our OPEB liability, retiree health insurance. We just put $8 million aside for this but we still have an unfunded liability of about $500 million. We really should be on a funding schedule for that or we’re simply passing the burden of payment onto future taxpayers. Unlike capital debt which should be paid overtime as future taxpayers use the facility retiree benefits are paid out now, or in the near future. Its the biggest ticking time bomb for most governmental entities.

I would have hoped that people would see that the administration is willing to spend money and take other steps to make for a better community….which career managers are also judged on. We’ve built reserves back to a good level and held the line on taxes but also invested in infrastructure (I think at this point over $170 million), increased spending on schools, increased spending on maintenance, expanded recreation programs to pre-2000 levels, leveraged resources for social service and cultural programs, become more supportive of community and organizational diversity, and I could go on about the administration’s achievements. Which, by the way, are the results of great work by department heads and employees. AND, we have invested in public safety, both fire and police. We’ve added resources to both. We never laid off uniformed personnel and in fact after the crunch of the recession started adding positions back into departments. We’re currently reviewing all of the information on this and hope to have a full report out within the next week which explains this. Some civilian grant funded positions have gone away but even there we are working to reinstate with other grants or city funds. These positions allow our police department to be more effective and keep patrol officers on the street. Finally, on the much debated use of OT, the philosophy we have used is to use added overtime resources to target officers into certain areas at specified times for maximum effectiveness. This notion of “smart policing” is being adopted in numerous communities that have recognized that a single officer only provides limited coverage during high activity times while that same level of funds buys coverage many times over meaning more officers on the street. That said, there is a place for added staff in a a carefully planned and managed manner to insure we get the best people not just more people. For instance, we have 11 new patrolmen coming on within the next month.

In the end, we need to recognize the perceptions of the community regarding safety but we shouldn’t fan it. We do need to look at the numbers to see how we’re doing and how we should be using our resources and developing our strategies. On the numbers we have made great progress in knocking back crime over the past several years. But, lower isn’t as good as none, which is what we need to strive for. Plus, we see trends that need our attention now rather than waiting for the problems to become less manageable…and, the police are working at that with their use of resources and strategies, and with their requests to me for added resources and supportive policies.

Thanks for letting me weigh in…..

October 10, 2013

Welcome To Coxville with Mayor “Punk” Elliott

by at 5:20 pm.

Do you know where we are going, if we follow Councilor “Punk” Elliott’s path (keep taxes artificially low, blow through the reserves) to fiscal sanity?

Been there! Done that!



Insurrection in the Council Chamber

by at 7:19 am.

After last Tuesday’s debacle at the Safety Subcommittee Meeting, I’ve heard a variety of responses to C.Elliott’s demeanor. Which, in my opinion, was nothing less than blatant contempt for the ‘People’s Work.’ Those that safeguard Elliott, trying to buffer his insolence for his duty to act as a steward for our City, should be scolded, publicly.

I will not be a party to it. Hence, this diary is intended to simply call a spade a spade:


 photo 2cfb85ed-e805-47d0-9c72-ad4809c11a4a_zps092384c8.jpg

C.Elliott is in favor of changing Lowell’s Charter, the Charter he took an oath to uphold in his tenure, from Plan E (Appointed City Manager) to Plan A (Strong Mayor.) That isn’t a problem, so much. Elliott is entitled to his opinion, which he states freely and candidly when he runs for election. Good on him, on that limited note.

What Elliott is NOT at liberty to do, is subvert our governance, our routine, community business, by acting in a buffoonish, Fred Doyle-esque manner! He is NOT entitled to the opportunity to degrade the public trust in our means of governing.

We do not need what Sun parroting candidates like to term “rubber stamps.” We don’t need ‘pro-Lynch stamps.’ Nor, do we need ‘anti-Lynch stamps.’ C.Elliott is an embarrassing heap of insurrection. Jilted by his peers, by not being elected Mayor. Thus, bitter and poisonous to what happens in the sanctum of democracy that we call the Council Chambers.

On November 5th, fellow Lowellians, let’s “PURGE THE PUNK!

Update: h/t djglowell Important & pertinent stuff over on WCAP.

The Issue of Safety Lynch vs. Elliot

This morning we had on both City Manager Bernie Lynch and Council Member Rodney Elliot to discuss the issue of safety.

October 6, 2013

Back To The Future?

by at 10:25 am.

Gerry Nutter laid it out, by the numbers. (I’ll provide graphs, below the fold.)

Additionally, during those years that City Manager / Administration proposed and the City Council approved the use of about $17.87 million in one time money in Free Cash, nearly $6 million per year to sustain spending levels as opposed to making necessary cuts.All while being supported by the Editor at the SUN.

In October 2006 after removing that City Manager and with the appointment of a new CFO the City discovered that the budget that was now 1/3rd under way, was rife with miscalculations. Free cash to pay for services was estimated to be $3.5 million but in the end it was -$2.2 million, a difference of $5.7 million. Other local receipts were over estimated by about $2 million. The FY06 budget ran out of money for utility bills and they were moved into FY07 for payment making the already inadequate utility account doubly so

That is all fact, it supports and highlights the need for professional management along with a strong balanced council. Combined with the positive numbers I showed last week highlighting the upward direction the city is heading, why is this election being focused on stupid, petty garbage like OLD vs. New Lowell.

This week’s “The Column” opted to be cute by half with this treatment.

MONTHS AGO, outgoing Mayor Patrick Murphy held an event at The Old Court. Those who attended, including one veteran politician, observed that Murphy packed the room with young, exuberant 20-somethings whose apparent desire to get involved in politics signaled a “new Lowell,” an awakening of sorts.

I’ve heard the WCAP ‘infomercial’ try to lay the coining of this meme at the feet of Dick Howe, Jr. Of course, JMac only looks in the mirror, so he really won’t know where the phrasing comes from. Gerry Nutter puts it on an attention seeking local media, which includes us ‘big mouthed bloggers.’ I concur. The ‘new/old’ meme has been floating around for several years now. It spun off the chatter about ‘blow ins & grow ins,’ etc. It’s clear, from the way The Column above sidesteps it, that they didn’t do their homework. But, opted, rather, to parrot JMac’s empty headed contortion. JMac & Campi come up short. Funny, in my mind, was the word choice, ” veteran politician,” by Campi. Who hates Dick, Jr. only a little less than he hates Kendall Wallace, to the point Campi will only admit the existence of Dick’s Blog, if he absolutely has to.

Dick, btw, has given witness to Gerry Nutter’s framing of the corporate; desperate to survive, via, bargain basement fire sale journalistic ethics; local media:

In his Sunday Notes today, Gerry Nutter says that all the negativity about city government coming from the Sun and WCAP is designed to suppress voter turnout on November 5. I agree.


About those City Finance graphs:

September 24, 2013

Open Thread: Turn Out Context Edition

by at 4:00 pm.

I’m not going to lie. Some of the candidates DON’T want more Lowellians to participate. They will lie through their teeth, but they want the outcome they desire. Elections are about winning. Democracy can come out of governing. Or, so they delude themselves to believe.

You and I know, that once they WIN, they govern to WIN AGAIN! Democracy goes out the window, unless we grab it back.

A few years back, we collected and analyzed some data. (h/t Dr. Marcus Luna) Unfortunately, the opportunities to have municipal preliminaries, in this century, were squandered. So, we only have so much data to interpolate from.

Let’s not moan or cheer any turn out numbers from tonight. Unless, we take it with a grain of salt and a heavy dose of context.


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