Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
It’s great having a writer and former reporter of Jen Myers’ caliber working for the city. Her posts at Room 50 are always a joy to read, and her corresponding photography slideshows a big bonus. Check out her latest post on the visit to our city by finance professionals from the Chinese Ministry of Finance, here to see how we do things.
On Friday morning City Hall welcomed a delegation of 20 finance professionals from the Chinese Ministry of Finance, eager to learn the ins and outs of the City of Lowell’s budget process and successful financial management policies.
The group, which included 16 Supervision Commissioners from the Office of the Ministry of Finance, from cities ranging from Sichuan (population 87 million) to the “small” city of Dalian (6.1 million), began their morning with a tour of the City Council Chamber and brief introduction to the city’s Plan E government. They were quite astonished to learn Lowell was the first place in the world to utilize telephone numbers.
They then enjoyed a two-hour budget discussion with City Manager Bernie Lynch in the Mayor’s Reception Room.
There were some really amusing moments, apparently:
His Chinese visitors were surprised by the level of public input and participation in the budget process, but were much more stunned to hear the population of Lowell is only 106,000.
“You mean 106 million?” asked one of the delegates.
“No, 106,000,” answered Lynch.
“Oh, you are a very small town,” responded the Chinese visitor, astonished to learn Lowell is the fourth largest city in Massachusetts.
Go check out the full post. It’s great to have an inside eye on some of the really cool things that happen in our city government.
Salmira and I are happy to be part of this effort. We’ll be reaching out to more folks in the thriving Brazilian community, here in Lowell.
Mayor Murphy Seeking Nominations for Sister City Task Force Members and Sister City Committee Chairpeople
Lowell, MA – Mayor Patrick Murphy is currently seeking nominations for a five-member Sister City Task Force. This Task Force, whose meetings will be chaired by either the mayor or a named representative, will develop strategic goals and provide guidance for the Lowell Sister City Initiative.
In addition, Mayor Murphy is seeking Committee Chairs who will work to maintain and strengthen Lowell’s individual Sister City relationships.
For each Sister City, a Committee Chair will lead a group of interested citizens who will plan and implement ways to maintain the international relationship. The exact nature, frequency, and duration of the meetings will be determined by the Committee Chair and other committee members, as will the ways that the committee chooses to interact with the counterpart Sister City.
Any City of Lowell resident is eligible to serve on this Task Force or as a Committee Chair. All interested persons should submit a resume, along with a brief cover letter explaining their desire to work with Sister Cities, to the Mayor’s Office via e-mail (email@example.com) by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 10.
The nine Sister Cities listed on the City of Lowell’s website are: Limerick, Ireland; St. Die des Vosges, France; Nairobi, Kenya; Barclayville, Liberia; Lobito, Angola; Winneba, Ghana; Bamenda, Cameroon; Berdyansk, Ukraine; and Bryansk, Russia.
Individuals interested in forming committees to establish new Sister City relationships are encouraged to contact the Mayor’s office by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (978) 674-1551.
Sister City relationships can serve several purposes. Primarily, they are an opportunity for direct educational and cultural exchange between citizens of different nations. In some cases, the relationships can grow to include business and travel connections, but at their most basic, elemental level, Sister City relationships can simply be a way to improve our residents’ knowledge about world geography, world cultures, and international communication.
For any questions about information contained in this press release, please contact Greg Page at (978) 674-1551 or e-mail email@example.com .
A two year battle to keep an innocent family member from being executed ended earlier today, when Lennox, a dog seized in 2010 from a family in Belfast, Northern Ireland, despite having zero aggression problems, and being the therapy dog for a disabled 7-year-old, was put to death. Belfast ignored worldwide outrage, and even offers from celebrities to rehome the dog outside of the UK, where the so-called “Dangerous Dog Act” enabled this disgusting event. Lennox was not even a pitbull, but a Bulldog/Labrador mix - NOT on the dangerous dogs list in the first place. But “authorities, armed with a dressmakers tape measure, had determined that he fit the measurements of a pit bull-type dog.”
As you all know by now I am a passionate dog owner of two adorable little rescues. And I am also vehemently against the stupid muzzle law that our own city put on pitbulls. It is absolutely ridiculous to react in a kneejerk fashion to anecdotal feelings that a particular breed is dangerous. There is no evidence pitbulls are any more dangerous than any other large dog.
The AVMA document concludes:
Given that pit bull-type dogs are not implicated in controlled studies, and the potential role of prevalence and management factors, it is difficult to support the targeting of this breed as a basis for dog bite prevention…
“If breeds are to be targeted a cluster of large breeds would be implicated including the German shepherd and shepherd crosses and other breeds that vary by location.”
We were interested in possibly a trip to the UK (Scotland) and Northern Ireland sometime in the future. But forget that. Not if dogs can be ripped away from families for having the unfortunate measurements of a banned dog, and not until they lift the ban itself.
Don’t you understand? It’s NOT the breed. It’s the owner. A bad owner could own a POODLE and they’d turn aggressive. A bad owner could own a golden retriever and turn that family-friendly dog into a nightmare. Get the owners. STOP blaming the breed. An ordinance to strengthen the ability for the city to cite bad owners for: not keeping their dog confined or on a leash (a real pet peeve of mine), for not licensing them, and for other violations would do a lot more for safety than muzzling (or seizing and destroying) one breed which currently has a bad rep because of today’s ownership trend. Pitties are all over the place, proportionately, so yeah, they seem more prevalent in attacks. They are also a “status” breed for the sort of owner who WANTS to train aggression in their dogs, or neglects them and doesn’t do proper socialization. That doesn’t mean they are any more dangerous than any other breed badly brought up.
And it doesn’t mean that it’s a great idea to punish the vast majority of good owners who have great, socialized and trained, properly confined, sweet adorable pitties.
In previous decades, other breeds have been blamed for dangerousness, like rottweilers, doberman pinschers, German Shepherd, and others. When will learn that it’s not about the breed? How many aggressive chihuahuas are there out there, simply, again, because of they are a popular breed and some owners do not bring them up right? But you see, a badly socialized or spoiled aggressive chihuahua hardly seems dangerous. Just pitties. Or rotties. Or shepherds. Or dobermans.
Instead of letting their gut lead the Council, maybe they ought to try actually researching the facts. Unless we want to be like the heartless UK and start seizing family pets, which seems to be the direction we’re heading to, sometimes. Politics should be able rising above primal sentiment to operate on the behalf of the public’s actual best interest. In the case of the breed-specific bans and seizure and muzzle laws, however, we’ve seen a total failure.
To even mention (or hedge a question) on the concept of shutting down government and defaulting on our debt as a political tactic to get what you want is going three bridges too far. Yet, that is exactly what Republican House leadership is saying. They will hold hostage our fragile but progressing recovery, in the name of scoring political points. Incredible:
Cantor Refuses To Take Government Shutdown Or Default On U.S. Debt Off The Table
In an interview with Fox News Sunday this morning, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the #2 Republican in the House, threatened to take the nation’s economy hostage if President Obama does not comply with House GOPers’ as yet undefined demands. When asked if he would take a government shutdown on forcing the United States to default on its debt off the table, Cantor responded that it would somehow be President Obama’s fault if House Republicans press this agenda:QUESTION: Are you willing to say right now we’re not going to let the country go into default, and we won’t allow a government shutdown?
CANTOR: Chris, look at this now. The chief executive, the president, is as responsible as any in terms of running this government. The president has a responsibility, as much or more so than Congress, to make sure that we are continuing to function in a way that the people want.
The entire security of the world economy hinges on government-backed debt. The “Full Faith and Credit of the United States of America” is not just a term bandied about by elite economists. It is the backbone of our entire economy, and the economy, now, of an interconnected world. It was shocking back when Bush said that Social Security debt was “just IOUs” - they aren’t, they are the same debt bonds that China, or Europe, or businesses buy, backed by the Full Faith and Credit of the United States of America. That default would have caused severe crisis with our debtors - just as defaulting on our debt to other nations and businesses would destroy our economy now. Imagine calling up your mortgage company and telling them you intend not to pay anything back. Now, imagine the value of your entire existence plunging right after you do this. This is essentially what Cantor is threatening to do.
To even hint at default in the offering as a political tactic is to jeopardize our entire national interest. It is treasonous. This is who you elected, America. Let’s hope this doesn’t come to pass, or you can kiss the jobs recovery goodbye.
Addendum - remember, Reagan said he doesn’t negotiate with terrorists and hostage takers. So, what is this, then??
Addendum II - Also recall, Congress appropriates funds. By saying “the president has a responsibility, as much or more so than Congress, to make sure that we are continuing to function in a way that the people want” is to state that you abdicate getting the funds appropriated to cover the debt at your convenience - the President has no say on enacting the budget except to sign. This is obviously a threat for him to capitulate to what they demand, or else.
Not so good when the shoe’s on the other foot, I imagine? But that’s exactly what’s going on this weekend - only, with Korans, not Bibles. It would be fitting if us atheists decided to host a Bible burning on the same day, don’t you think? No?
Universal condemnation of the Koran-burning assholes in Gainsville, FL (why, why is it always Florida?) isn’t stopping the tiny, bassackwards church and its leadership from hosting a Koran burning on 9/11. Even the fact that this will harm our troops overseas, and pleas from General Petraeus to not inflame hatred in the Muslim world with this act - not phasing them.
Here are some things that I think would be great counter-protests for the 99% of us that are still sane. Gainsville residents who don’t want to look like your entire town is filled with redneck hillbillies - you can use any of my suggestions and I don’t even need credit!
1. Hundreds of people showing up with a Koran in hand, but only to trick their way to the fire - where they throw a water bottle full of water on the flames, over and over til it’s out.
2. Hire a plane that fights fires and fill it with water, dump it over the site. Soak the lot of these bastards along with their pyre.
3. Get a fire hose (local hydrant?) and spray it into the air above the area so it falls like heavy rain, hitting the crowd and fire.
4. A few hundred people (with earplugs in place) show up to use the most annoying loud sound makers available - vuvuzelas if they can get them, air horns if not - and stand right nearby to drive the assholes away. Since they’re obviously already deaf to the pleas of the entire world, it can’t do much harm.
5. Host a book burning of the pastor’s “Islam Is of the Devil” - every copy you can get your hands on. This is a last resort, though, since it would likely require buying them up in the first place.
Your suggestions? I don’t advocate violence or vandalism, but I wouldn’t be that upset if some enterprising young person sneaked in the night before and plastered the place with obscene phallic symbols. That’s how angry this makes me. If you just can’t contain your hatred and bigotry, at least don’t do something that will endanger our troops and American civilians abroad with your actions. People are going to die because of this.
Here’s living proof that its demise was prematurely declared.
Here’s what we have learned about the interrogation of detainees, torture, and the big reason, why.
The truth is that when the CIA didn’t give Cheney the info he wanted about an Iraq-al Qaeda connection, he marginalized the agency:
In the initial stages of the war on terror, Tenet’s CIA was rising to prominence as the lead agency in the Afghanistan war. But when Tenet insisted in his personal meetings with the president that there was no connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Cheney and Rumsfeld initiated a secret program to re-examine the evidence and marginalize the agency and Tenet. Through interviews with DoD staffers who sifted through mountains of raw intelligence, FRONTLINE details how questionable intelligence was “stovepiped” to the vice president and presented to the public.
So who thinks Pelosi isn’t telling the truth? Most people should believe she is in this her-versus-them moronic debate. Occam’s razor demands it, given everything that we know about the situation, don’t you think?
And yet, the media sheeples have once again, with rare exception, given in to the right wing bitch and moan brigade and now we have a slipping of the approval rates for the leader of the Democratic party in the US House.
Constant vigilance, people, these liars and cheaters are not done with this country yet.
(Cross-posted at BlueMassGroup)
So the elections are in and it looks like the hard-liner Israelis (as well as hard-line Palestinians) have sucessfully reaped benefits from the current rounds of conflict. This, in all likelyhood, means more lip-service to a two-state solution at the same time as settlements continue to expand. It seems to me that incentives for Palestinians to negotiate at this point are dwindling by the day. At some point they will come to the conclusion that any two-state option that Israel is willing to give isn’t one worth having. What then?
More below the fold. (more…)
A few days ago, I wrote about the EU response to the “Buy American” clause of the stimulus. And though I understand the impulse (”we’re spending American taxpayer money so it ought to be on American goods”) I’m not sure we’re ready for the consequences. A friend of mine in Canada sent these thoughts to me (via email). And yes, Canadians don’t put z’s in ize’d words.
I don’t think people realise the extent to which economies are intertwined today.
Take Plug Power for example … a company in upstate NY that supplies clean power solutions. They are the one bright light in a fairly depressed area of the state. They could play a huge rule in the various investments … particularly in mobile power sources. But if the Buy American clause passes they will be excluded from it and probably go bankrupt as a result. Why the exclusion? Although the delivery systems are built and assembled in NYC, the actual power pack is a hydrogen fuel cell designed and manufactured in BC by Ballard Power.
If you want to know the disastrous potential impacts look at the Smoot Hawley Tariff bill of 1930. It was brought into force to try and protect American jobs. Other nations slammed their own tariff barriers into place in retaliation and the value of world trade dropped by two thirds … that’s right … two thirds in the space of two years.
This whole buy American thing is a knee jerk reaction that doesn’t address the real problem of productivity. I mean the reason so many of your South East wood mills are unproductive is because they were protected by punitive tariffs on Canadian wood for so long that they didn’t need to upgrade … we had to upgrade just to compete … and the longer the tariff stayed in place the worse it got.
Anyway … instead of looking at the job losses I would like every American who works in an export related field to get a little note on their paycheck that shows just what portion of that comes from exports.
This is too simple a reaction to too complex a problem.
Now, my friend’s viewpoints are what are considered relatively conservative, at least in the pro-business sense, for Canada and British Columbia, specifically. But he knows a lot about these trade issues and he makes a very compelling point. It appears the Buy American clause did not get taken out of the Senate version of the stimulus in the latest round, so this is a very relevant discussion.
First for some background: McCain stated very clearly that he under no circumstances would violate the border of Pakistan in order to take out al Quada. However, this Saturday night, weak veep choice Sarah Palin (in a rare encounter with actual questions from a real American at a cheesesteak stop in Philly) said:
Sarah Palin told a customer at a Philadelphia restaurant on Saturday that the United States should “absolutely” launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan in the event that it becomes necessary to “stop the terrorists from coming any further in,” a comment similar to the one John McCain condemned Barack Obama for making during last night’s presidential debate.
During Friday’s debate, Obama criticized the Bush administration for sending billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan without ridding the border region of terrorists.
“If the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out,” Obama added.
McCain fired back hard, arguing that newly elected Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has had his “hands full” and suggesting that Obama’s tough talk was naïve.
“You don’t say that out loud,” McCain said. “If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government.”
Palin’s apparent disagreement with McCain’s position on Pakistan came as the Alaska governor was picking up a couple of cheesesteaks at Tony Luke’s in South Philadelphia. She was approached by a man wearing a Temple University t-shirt, who later identified himself as Michael Rovito.
So today, this from McCain:
Sen. John McCain retracted Sarah Palin’s stance on Pakistan Sunday morning, after the Alaska governor appeared to back Sen. Barack Obama’s support for unilateral strikes inside Pakistan against terrorists
“She would not…she understands and has stated repeatedly that we’re not going to do anything except in America’s national security interest,” McCain told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos of Palin. “In all due respect, people going around and… sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that’s—that’s a person’s position… This is a free country, but I don’t think most Americans think that that’s a definitve policy statement made by Governor Palin.”
Can this get any, well, easier for us? My. God.
(Both items via AMERICAblog.)
I recommend reading this article (hat tip: Mr. Lynne) if you want to understand the context of the Georgian-Russian conflict. The short version: no one is the good guy in this, up to and including the United States, which has consistently embarrassed or ignored Russia by doing things such as violating the ABM treaty.
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