Left In Lowell

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July 21, 2013

Good Civics and Bad Civics

by at 5:08 pm.

I seemed to have struck a nerve.

As the head of the LHNG, I try keep my personal feelings out of the discussion, however, a post by a Lowell blogger today just went to far. Suggesting that neighborhood groups in Lowell are the Taliban is offensive. Bringing issues to the forefront in this city is not a power grab, it is my right as a citizen. We are volunteers trying to improve our neighborhoods. If you don’t know that, you don’t know what my neighborhood group really does.

It is very possible I could end up with egg on my face, after this. But. I’ll stick to my guns, if it drives the dialogue.

As Lowellians, we should bond together at the grassroots level. We should exercise all of our Rights, as afforded to us by Lowell’s Charter and by America’s Founders. This cannot be stressed enough.

But, what we should not do is make a handshake with the City Manager to do an end run around the City Council. We should NOT go into meetings in the Mayor’s Reception Room and present ourselves as speaking on behalf of one sixth of Lowell ,over raising taxes to fund putting more cops on the street. Further, we should not shut down debate over proposed ordinances or proposed amendments to ordinances.

There is a difference between being a grassroots lobbyist and a strong arming special interest.

So, as we go forward, and always keeping an eye on November; let’s bear in mind what a proper balance of civic engagement is. It’s good to shout, sometimes. Just don’t prattle.

July 15, 2013

Open Thread: A-Tisket, A-Tasket. WTF is with the Basket? Edition

by at 9:37 am.

I don’t know and I don’t care. But others may, like our drive by commenter - brian.

1.Name: brian |

Why no comments in blogosphere or yesterday’s column about market basket takeover? Not a story?

That said, food security in no joke. There are plenty of Lowellians who are lower working class or on fixed incomes.

FYI: I will not moderate anything that is over the top, scurrilous, defamatory or libelous. The DeMoulas are still family, afterall, and I’m sure they have deep pockets and AWESOME shysters.

Please shop around on this Open Thread.

June 22, 2013

Acute Symptom of an Old Disease

by at 9:22 pm.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say, some time back, someone gave Kevin Hayhurst very bad advice. Please note the part where the struggling bar owner says, “… I donate to everyone.”

Sorry, Sir. Donations don’t go as far as they used to.

Update: A search of the MA OCPF website shows no record of a Hayhurst political contribution. Likely, he is referring to charitable giving.
(more…)

June 19, 2013

“Mary Jo” Just Won’t Go

by at 7:13 am.

So, as the cliché goes, ‘the emperor has no clothes.”

The deadlocked didn’t break.

The political stunt by the Boutin faction of the GLTHS school committee lays bare the shallowness of the Gitschier cabal.

My apologizes to soon to be former Supt. Santoro, for drumming up her name with my old mantra. But, it is clear, Cassin style politics is not being forced out of that school. Same shit. Different spoon.

And, to top it off, Mike Hayden pulled papers to run for a seat. Is he running for one of the 4 year seats, occupied by O’Hare & Bahou? Or, is he going to try and snipe Boutin off of the balance of Lenzi’s term?

May 31, 2013

Let’s Ask Teddy Panos (Updated)

by at 11:34 am.

Hey, Teddy.

Your ass is in a knot over welfare fraud. (Yes. I do listen.) And, you are a proponent of the big government intrusion of mandating citizens present photo identification when they go to exercise control over government, via ballots. As social engineering is an incrementalist’s game, whether progressive or classic liberal, you should be happy as a clam to hear this:

From the Boston Dead Tree Rag:

It’s time to slap photos on EBT cards and crank up oversight of the state’s “broken” welfare system before more dead people can collect benefits, an incensed House Speaker Robert DeLeo told the Herald yesterday.

“Why do we have to let the wound fester? We have to stop this fraud, and we have to stop it now,” DeLeo said, adding he was “appalled” by a state audit released Tuesday that showed $2.4 million paid to more than 1,100 dead people and $27 million to live recipients collecting EBT benefits out of state, including in Alaska and Hawaii.

DeLeo said House proposals to put photos on EBT cards, create a Bureau of Program Integrity and allow the Inspector General to monitor the embattled agency “are needed now more than ever,” and promises by the Patrick administration that they are addressing the problems aren’t enough.

No?

For sure, if EBT cards are printed with a photo id of the benefit holder, an idea I fully support; then this will be a valid id. Thus, should the photo id intrusion into our ballot system of checks and balances move forward, those of us guarding against voter suppression will be partially relieved.

I love ‘checks and balances.’ It’s the wisest creation of The Founders.

Update: David Bernstein, of Boston Magazine, did a nice job sorting through the spin factor around the Auditor’s report. Such revelations will not help Teddy regain his composure. Maybe, it will help you, as it did me. Please proceed below the fold for an outtake.
(more…)

May 23, 2013

The Council, as a Kangaroo Court

by at 7:04 am.

I went to watch the Council meeting, last Tuesday. Partly, I went to watch the chicken dance, but also to watch a motion brought by C.Elliott:

21. C. Elliott - Req. City Solicitor provide an explanation on damage claim refused for 58 Carroll Parkway.

Thankfully, the motion was moved up in the agenda and I got to go home after and watch most of the Bruins game. #gameon

What I saw was, as this motion unravelled, a travesty. First off, C. Elliott pulled a bait and switch. His motion prompts an explanation. Of course, the motion would have to carry and the Solicitor would follow, at least a week, later. Immediate gratification is not the normal course of the Council’s outcome. Yet, C.Elliott structured the proceeding to drag forth his desired outcome. The Council was degraded into a Kangaroo Court.

Over on Gerry Nutter’s Blog, you can read his reaction to the proceedings. For sure, the analysis is hyperbolic; but I concur with the gist of Gerry’s assertion. Words such as ‘grandstanding’ and ‘pandering’ gelled in my head, as I sat there that night. So, Gerry’s reaction is familiar to me.

One very important point, I will carry in to this diary:

EVERY person who argues and loses a traffic or parking ticket they received here in Lowell, Everyone who appeals to the Assessor’s Office and loses and Everyone who puts in any claim to the City and loses or has lost in the past year, PLEASE PLEASE Call Councilor Rodney Elliot his phone number is in the Phone book and ask him to put you on the Council Agenda. He has now set a president and the rest of the City Council by allowing this ludicrousness to happen have opened the door to a new Agenda Item every week and the people of this city need to take advantage of this and call Rodney Elliot 978- You can look it up and get on the agenda.

I am convinced that C.Elliott is trying to poison the atmosphere in the Council chamber. That his demeanour is consistently contrary to the social norms of the Council’s decorum. C.Elliott acts this way with such ferocity and consistency, he has convinced me that he wishes to undermine the smooth operations of these meetings. This ploy is masked as “asking tough question.” They are only tough in the sense that they are presented in a way to befuddle and aggravate emotions. That residents will grow sick and tired and quit observing the meeting. That other Councilors will fatigue and surrender. That he is bent on punishing the Council that did not elect him Mayor. I am convinced that C.Elliott’s strategy is to erode the public trust in City government and facilitate the removal of Bernie Lynch as the City Manager.

This is a war.

Watch for yourself. In this battle, the City Solicitor is targeted.
(more…)

May 14, 2013

It Was Over, 20 Years Ago

by at 2:25 pm.

The “HEY! LOOK AT ME!!!!!” crowd is about to embark on a full blown grandstanding jamboree, I’m told. Gerry Nutter got wind of it and now it’s blowing my way, too. We are in for a motion from Councilor Elliott, in the near future, proposing that a charter change be put on the ballot. You can count on Councilor Ditto to second Elliott’s offering.

There is some history to this effort. From 1993:
(h/t Dick Howe, Jr.)

Question 2 - Do you support a change in the city charter to provide for an elected mayor as chief executive instead of an appointed city manager? Yes-10,0441. No-6,760.

That question was put on a city election ballot, as a non-binding resolution. But, it never went any further because after 5 Council incumbents were displaced, the appetite for upheaval diminished. (Funny how that works? Huh?)

Also, another question, that year, showed only a slight edge towards a desire to rid Lowell of Plan E.

Question 1 - Do you support keeping the present Plan E form of government? Yes-8,234. No-8,779.

Should anyone assert that Lowell, circa 1993, has any sort of ‘mandate,’ they should take a few data points into account. (more…)

May 7, 2013

Flexible Integrity on The City Council

by at 12:05 pm.

Tonight, as the Council contorts itself to defend the integrity of The Belvidere, please consider something. Who remembers this episode?
(bold mine)

LOWELL CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 25, 2012
CITY HALL, CITY COUNCIL CHAMBER
TIME 6:30 PM
-snip
GENERAL PUBLIC HEARINGS (Scheduled for 7PM)
.
.
9. Ordinance-Amend zoning (Westview Road)

I’m going to quickly paste in a bunch of info, so you can judge for yourself whether the City Council is plague by an integrity problem. Maybe, because of national politics, we have become immune to ‘flip-flopping?’
(more…)

April 18, 2013

WTF FERC?!

by at 3:47 pm.

FERC had a brainfart.

The cub reporter quickly blurted out the bits his Editor want to float:

“We find that the proposed pneumatic crest gate system can be installed without unacceptably altering the dam or adversely affecting the park and historic districts,” FERC wrote in its ruling. “The crest gate system will also provide important benefits to recreation, fish passage, dam and worker safety, and project generation, and will help alleviate upstream backwater and flooding effects to the maximum extent possible.”

Of course, there are little gems stashed in the “Order Amending License.” (h/t Corey Sciuto)

Project Economics
47. The licensees’ proposal to install an inflatable crest gate system has an estimated capital cost of $5,980,000. This capital cost results in an average, annualized cost of $956,000. We estimate that the annual cost to operate the system would be minimal.

48. Operation of an inflatable crest gate system instead of flashboards could enable the project to generate more power, because the gates could be reinflated relatively soon after high flows. In contrast, the flashboards would be washed out for an estimated three months. The licensees estimate that project operation with the inflatable crest gates would result in an increase in annual generation of approximately 8,000 megwatt hours (MWh). Using a regional estimated alternative energy value of $38.74/MWh, as determined from the Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook for 2012, this additional generation would be valued at $310,000 annually. Therefore, the net cost of the licensee’s proposed action, including total capital costs and generation benefits, would be approximately $646,000 annually.

49. Although our analysis shows that the cost of installing the crest gates would exceed the value of the increased generation, it is the applicant who must decide whether to accept this license amendment and any financial risk that entails.
(bold mine)

There is a lot to digest. Please give it a go, then chime in here.

PS. We are about to find out, if the Dept. of Interior folks are willing to take it to the next level. The Dept. of the Interior(Parks) has a brand new Secretary and Energy(FERC) is due to get a new Secretary. So, leadership may come from the locals until Obama’s Cabinet members can find their way around. This matter may be determined by which Department has better insulated its ‘Legal Eagles’ from sequestration. :v\

February 27, 2013

Motion To Delay! Oh Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay!’

by at 12:23 am.

 photo SpeckLanes_zpscb6d0153.png

After over an hour of details surrounding the $2 million loan order to purchase new parking kiosks, as well as improve some of Lowell’s current inventory, C.Kennedy made a motion to delay the vote by one week. The discussion, then, continued for about another hour more. Ultimately, the motion to delay was supported, 7-2, with C. Lorrey and C. Mendonca against.

Come tomorrow, over at LTC.org, we can all dive back in to the picayune of tonight’s exquisitely detailed waltz around the kiosks. Honestly, I partly jest. There was plenty of red meat for those of us that like concrete responses to valid questions. But, tonight, politics was in the air, so progress was waylayed.

It’s late, so I’m going to put down some quick notes and take a lucky stab at how this all plays out over the next week.

There seemed to be, for all intents and purposes, 2 unresolved issues: 1) the proposed parking along Father Morrissette Blvd 2) if the loan order should be approved before the bid documents are evaluated.
(more…)

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