Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
I find it interesting, this disconnect between the strong opinions of the blogs and a number of the public (if my facebook feed is any indication), and Councilors (and councilor-to-be Belanger, who has not acquitted himself well in my opinion…I’m sad to be right about him) about panhandling.
Dick sums it up pretty nicely - he understands the impulse to push these people into the shadows (or into other parts of the city) but that doesn’t solve any problems nor does it show a blink of compassion for people who might, actually, be down on their luck, and for whom a $50 fine might be insurmountable punishment. The Capt has a new post against the ordinance as well, and remembers how the Council also voted to push out the visible homeless camps - which if the first hand accounts of many folks are true, merely served to push these people deeper and keeps them further from the help that was being offered to them prior. I personally know of a hidden camp of some sort near my house, though I don’t know if it’s currently occupied.
Kad has his say already, twice. He is a downtown resident and customer, and also quite on the other side of the aisle from me politically, so it’s not like we’re all in some sort of echo chamber. Kad and I have had some doozies of disagreements at times.
New bloggers Aurora and Chris already aired their opinions as well (previously linked). So, to count - a long-time townie, myself, a downtown resident, brand new residents - all of us see this ordinance for what it really is.
And what is that? Knee-jerk governing.
This is the same sort of impulse that passed the homeless camp ordinance for which every person involved patted themselves on the back. See? We cleared those camps and solved the problems! Case closed! Except they are not solved. This same impulse passed the breed-specific pit bull ordinance, which subsequently got overruled by a state law banning breed-specific rules, thank goodness. You see this in the perennial “pedophiles in the library!” or “spend down the free cash on more cops because, public safety!” issues that come up.
Mr. Lynne walked by while I was writing this post. He works in Boston, taking the commuter rail in and walking to work from North Station. He walks through the Common and the Public Garden, among other places. He remarked, I probably walk by more panhandlers in one morning than these guys ever see in Lowell. And yet Boston is a pretty prosperous place to which people flock, and patronize their businesses.
Governing by optics, governing by outrage machine, or whatever you want to call it, is one of the worst sorts of governing that exists. Because it takes a serious problem, and proposes bad solutions, or non-solutions, or damaging solutions, in the name of expediency or convenience. This panhandling ordinance is also the worst kind of scapegoating. Let’s face it - our downtown businesses are often struggling. Whether it’s the lack of easy parking, the economy, the general struggles of any downtown, the fact everything closes at 5pm and no one is open on Sundays except restaurants, a lack of disposable income by many of the people who live downtown (elderly and affordable housing), or what have you, we’ve seen a lot of businesses shuttered, or moving, and empty storefronts are a little too common.
But clearing out panhandling won’t fix your lackluster business, Mr. Belanger.
Of course, aggressiveness or harassment by a panhandler is another thing all together - and I would think that existing rules probably prohibit anyone from such aggression (hence why we have the legal term “harassment”). Why we need a special rule for downtown banning it all together - other than as a knee-jerk reaction to a much larger problem of homelessness and addiction and the general, inescapable fact that we’re a city, dammit! - is beyond me.
The current gentrify-du-jour being a no-panhandling ordinance on tonight’s Council agenda, it’s no surprise some bloggers around here are writing about it.
Downtown resident/consumer kad has quite an equitable point of view: fine, cleaning stuff up is great, and we all want successful downtown businesses but…
i think, if anybody’s asking me, the problem is first in perceiving these people as something, like bathroom waste, in need of “clean up”. we often ridicule other people for believing that “their shit don’t stink”, and, i think, here in lowell, we’ve got more than a few people who want to lay in a lifetime supply of febreeze and renuzits and just keep clouding the air with a bunch of sociological perfume in complete denial that we have a significant population of people who are challenged to “make it” in any way, shape or form recognizable to us in our centrally-heated, indoor plumbed luxury accommodations.
He also has a second post. As for my own opinion on the panhandling ordinance, I’m rather of a mind with kad - I sympathize with the downtown businesses and residents, but I worry that we’re shuffling the less fortunate out of our way so we don’t have to see them, and be uncomfortable. And the idea of fining a homeless person $50 for panhandling - whether he buys food, or booze with his proceeds - is patently stupid. Good luck collecting, or making your point. These are already people who are outside of the system and marginalized.
Chris at Learning Lowell is also on the subject of panhandling.
Aurora and I discussed it, and she summarized our opinions thusly:I have a couple of concerns about it. I’m worried about a lack of commitment to outreach about the law and alternative options to panhandlers, creating a larger gulf between police (and social services) and the homeless population, and logistics of paying the fine. I’m also not sure what happens if the perpetrator cannot or will not pay a fine. Is this going to get people thrown in jail? Finally, I worry it will just “push” the problem to other areas of the City without addressing root issues.
A little bit older now, but I haven’t linked to it yet was Dick Howe’s “The ‘Cambodian vote’ in the 2013 city election”. In it, he looks at the numbers and tries to see how last Tuesday’s results for the Cambodian Council candidates happened:
My first theory was that the number of active Cambodian voters may be a fixed number that with the 2011 turnout of 9,946 was sufficient to win a seat but proved insufficient when the 2013 turnout rose to 11,581. Looking at the ward by ward performance by both Nuon and Pech in both 2011 and 2013 disproved that theory. Both made substantial gains in wards that have the most Cambodian voters (Wards 2, 3, 4, and 7). However, that same comparison shows that both Nuon and Pech, but especially Nuon, lost a substantial number of votes from 2011 to 2013 in the wards that have the fewest Cambodian voters (Wards 1, 6, and 9 – both also lost ground in Ward 8 which has a substantial Cambodian population but has other issues that will be a subject of a future post).
There are some great comments there, too.
Dick also has his always-valuable Week in Review. And of course, there are a ton of other posts from this last week on his blog on culture, history, and the arts.
Greg has a quick, but interesting post about the oft-ignored School Committee race. He says, “There will be time later on for more analysis, but for now this may suggest there is a “Challenger Bump” enjoyed by School Committee candidates, followed by a time of great vulnerability (first re-election attempt).”
Finally, there is an awesome Jen Myers post on her Room 50 blog about the recent visit of former, first female President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. Jen always brings events to life with her photography.
Suffice to say, they have been chugging, steadily along.
City Manager contracts across MA
Several counselors and candidates have expressed a belief that contracts for executive officers in a city are inappropriate. Mr. Leahy mentioned that he believed contracts were appropriate for school executive leadership, but not for city managers. I was curious, and did a quick internet search.
Sun Debate: Taxes, Inspections, Elections, and LHA
This is the second post about the Sun debate. The first is here.
Sun Debate: City Manager, School, and Safety
The Sun Debate was about a week ago, but I’ve just finished watching the third at http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_24385207/crime-takes-center-stage-round-1-lowell-city. I’ve seen a few folks comment on the Sun’s follow-up articles, but the videos give much more context. The same pool of questions were used in each debate, although moderators sometimes didn’t address every question or varied the phrasing. This will be the first of two parts recording the questions and our reactions. The second is here.
“What do you want in a police chief?” asks the City Manager
Last Thursday, City Manager Lynch, CFO Tom Moses, Solicitor Christine O’Conner, HR Director Mary Callery, and Executive Assistant Lynda Clark held the public listening session to discuss attributes the public desires in a new Police Superintendent. Unfortunately, this session competed with both the first of the three Sun Candidate Forums and a Red Sox World Series game–something the City Manager apologized for. It perhaps contributed to the slim turnout of about half a dozen. This meant Aurora and I composed a third of the focus group! A streetworker from UTEC, a reporter from the Sun, a fellow from the Senior Center actually just there to get photos, and a long-term resident rounded out the group. I’ll try to summarize what was discussed, but I’m largely working from memory.
Please consider putting Learning Lowell into your blog routine.
So here it is folks. The pièce de résistance. Official Left in Lowell candidate questionnaire answers! They are on their own web page, which you can find here.
On a side note, I really REALLY like this format. Comparing lots of apples to lots of other apples, and a few places for candidates to show off their knowledge. This could be the format going forward. Also, lots and lots of props to my wonderful husband who whipped the submitted answers into a format that I could literally copy and paste into the page for the data table. Love you hon!!!
Thanks also to our amazing readers for a very large chunk of the questions. Crowd sourcing works!
I am considering reopening up for submissions after the preliminary, since my timeframe was crushed a bit leading up to next Tuesday’s election. The unfair part is that anyone submitting answers after publication is getting an advantage of seeing what everyone else said; but if I were to notate who passed answers in after the prelim, would you want to see more answers from more candidates? Honest question. I’m good either way.
Dick Howe posted to Facebook this forum that he found which has an awesome trip through Lowell’s mill redevelopment, and it’s worth every minute you spend on it. It’s a great celebration of some of the accomplishments of the city. There are a lot of before and after pics.
Update: We’re talking chickens! Not the LFF, but what the hell. Jump in.
We were graced with a scathing visitation from The Lowell Shallot:
Lowell Shallot Says:
July 18th, 2013 at 7:55 am
Why isn’t anyone talking about Peter Aucella and the Folk Fest article (LINK- added by Jack). It blows my mind how obtuse this guy is. Declining support each year in terms of attendees and sponsorship and this guy wants more support from local businesses who “benefit”. Isn’t it the management and production of the event that has made it less relevant each year? Look in the mirror Pete. They lost WGBH a long time ago, and they are looking to the businesses downtown to make up the difference? What businesses downtown? Everyone is struggling. Perhaps the organizers should look inward to see their failings for answers. Where is COOL in all of this? No busking during Folk Fest? Why? Let’s get it together people. Here’s a novel idea, get acts worth seeing and maybe people will come, and pay to see them! Brilliant!
Aucella should step down, as should each member of the Festival Committee.
Arthur Sutcliffe - Chairman of the Board
Helene Loiselle - Board of Trustees
Pauline Golec - Board of Trustees / Ethnic Chair
Richard Cohan - Board of Trustees
John Scannell - Board of Trustees
Corey Belanger - Advisory Board Member
Patricia Bowe - Advisory Board Member
Renee Caraviello - Advisory Board Member
Michael Couture - Advisory Board Member
Donald DuPaul - Advisory Board Member
Beth Fraser - Advisory Board Member
Bob Howard - Advisory Board Member
Janet Leggat - Advisory Board Member
Janis Maliszewski - Advisory Board Member
Debbie Miller - Advisory Board Member
Priscilla Partyka - Advisory Board Member
Mike Soriano - Advisory Board Member
Ann Scannell - Advisory Board Member
Joellen Scannell - Advisory Board Member
Dean Secchiaroli - Advisory Board Member
Stacey Renna - Advisory Board Member
Cory Belanger– like we need this guy in City Council. What’s with all the Scannells? Don’t they make boilers? How old is this committee? Where is the new blood? I also love the title ‘ethnic chair’. WTF does that mean?
I don’t know most of these people, but I do know the result of their work and I am sure that Peter Aucella is not setting the world on fire. Step aside people. You’re an embarrassment to the city and yourselves.
There is, then, a back and forth between two anonymous commenters on the original thread. Click back, if you care. I don’t care so much for anon on anon bashing. I mean, .. really? But, sometimes little glimmers of usefulness pops out of such exchanges. Even if it is useful by being wrong and others chime in to offer some true insight.
Such a thing just happened on Facebook. The person is an anon to you, but not to me: (more…)
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.
Nothing to make past cronyism obvious than a former License Commission member legally representing the owner of one of the bigger violators of ordinances in regards to an accusation of assault on a UML student at his establishment.
The owner of Finn’s Pub on Merrimack Street has been charged with punching and kicking a student outside his establishment during a UMass Lowell pub crawl last month.
Finn’s Owner Kevin Hayhurst, 35, of 127 Loon Hill Road, Dracut, was arraigned Wednesday in Lowell District on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery.
Hayhurst, who also owns Brian’s Ivy Hall and is being represented by Raymond Weicker, told The Sun he denies all the allegations against him.
The assault charges are serious stuff, and of course I hope the law finds the truth, whatever that is, but can we finally shut down these troublesome establishments? For one thing, they are giving our city a nasty reputation. We don’t need this crap here.
For god’s sake, Hayhurst (why is it our angriest bullies all have last names starting with “Hay”?) told Paul Belley to go fuck himself. Nice.
Thank god we cleaned house on that Commission. Weicker’s chumminess with the worst bar owner in Lowell, along with Bayliss and all of that noise…it was bad for downtown, and bad for Lowell.
Tonight, as the Council contorts itself to defend the integrity of The Belvidere, please consider something. Who remembers this episode?
LOWELL CITY COUNCIL
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 25, 2012
CITY HALL, CITY COUNCIL CHAMBER
TIME 6:30 PM
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?’
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