Left In Lowell

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

 
2013 Candidate Questionnaire Responses!
 

July 25, 2014

Petulance Is Not Leadership

by at 6:18 am.

I know I’m just getting to this and it’s Friday, and I haven’t blogged much lately, and everything I want to write will make me sound like a broken record…because we have that kind of City Council…but I wanted to highlight one of the many violations of logic that our Council seems hell bent on committing.

This past Tuesday, one agenda item - a vote from the CM’s portion of the agenda, ” Vote-Authorize School Dept proceed under MGL c.30B for the lease of property for School Administration Offices” - provoked a long commentary from Belanger that defied sanity. Never mind that he’s in direct conflict of interest on this matter, since he’s hoping that maybe the relocated school dept employees eat in his ethnically-confused dive bar. But his hypocrisy was breathtaking. He was complaining (during a long, repetitive rant) because the school dept is also going to take one of the empty storefronts for their year-round parent interfacing office.

Wasn’t it this same city councilor who drove the push (I would say, unwisely tying the hands of the SD) to insist that the RFP for this relocation heavily favor a downtown location? Again, with the appearance of self interest, which I find blatant and gross (Franky D never did this crap when she was a Councilor). Wasn’t it he who, with his overly long speeches on the matter, made it clear that downtown was the only place acceptable to him?

Well he got his wish. The downtown location was chosen. Then on top of this, he’s been ranting about downtown vacancies (like this is a new thing) and closing businesses left and right? I get that we don’t want to fill dowtown with 100% nonprofit and government offices in its street level retail spaces. But for heaven’s sake, it’s not like a retail business trying to start downtown would find a dearth of spaces for rent.

I also find it ironic that, when it’s convenient or in his self interest, he’s fine with trying to find a way for the council to interfere with private business (the landlord, in this case). Oy.



Let’s Talk About Rules

Rules. Let’s pitch ‘em please. The number of times Rita suspended the rules for one reason or another on Tuesday night, it appears we don’t need them. And, can someone please, please tell me how it is the City Council can take a vote to support Arthur T Demoulas after a citizen petition in front of the council without an agenda item? I thought that was against the rules too. What should have happened (and correct me if I’m wrong please) is they should have put it on the agenda for two weeks from Tuesday. Do they think no one might want to speak on the issue given fair warning under Open Meeting Laws?

Now given the situation and its fluidity (the Market Basket board meets today) I suppose you could argue it was one of those “emergency responses” which is the end-around the OML. But was it? Was it really?

May 17, 2014

Only the Retired, or EPA Employees Need Run?

by at 8:29 am.

Let’s face it. The Lowell Sun isn’t everywhere covering everything like it used to. We’re lucky when it can muster up the interest in a License Commission meeting. It barely covers the City Council meetings (really, we only hear whatever Cub Reporter Lyle wants us to hear about, usually something that makes his BFF Elliott look good). Which is why richardhowe.com’s week in review and city council notes are so very crucial to our civic life here in the city.

So, that’s why Kendall’s Saturday Chat kind of chapped my hide. (No link as yet.)

I know people who serve in public office have busy lives, but I was also surprised that only one member of the School Committee attended the Honors Night at the high school and only one attended a teachers appreciation dinner that same night. Committeeman Dave Conway was the only one who made an appearance at both events.

Excuse me? I happen to know personally that my friends on the School Committee, besides working at real jobs and raising some great kids who are still in the public school system, talk all the time about school-related events they attend. I kind of marvel at their energy to do all of that in a single week, frankly. In between girl scouts and dance lessons and a million other things. I’d burn out real fast. Instead of insulting them for not attending the effing FEW events the Sun bothers to show up at, maybe you could ask them what they have attended? I think Mr. Wallace would be amazed at how active and involved they are.

And the other members of the SC that I know less well are also pillars of the community, who are involved in many other things besides their full time jobs and personal lives and their SC duties. Since when do you have to be retired and without other demands on your time, like Dave Conway is, to be an effective school committee elected (or City Council for that matter)?

Maybe some members of the SC aren’t retired, or EPA employees with a seemingly endless supply of vacation (seriously…has anyone FOIA’ed to find out exactly how many hours “full time” EPA employee Rodney Elliott is actually working? Since it’s our taxpayer dollar, I’d like to know), or able to get a PT $55K job via connections at the county sheriff’s office. But some of them have more than one full time job as parent, employee, and as SC member. How many jobs do you think they should have before they catch a break, Kendall? Just askin.

I mean, you know, most of the SC members couldn’t get that sweet weekend 16-hour-a-week $15/hr photojournalist job the Sun was advertising that most recent grad with zero experience would probably sneer at…they don’t have much experience with filling columns with drivel and sideways insults and they don’t steal photos for profit.

And people wonder why no one wants to run for local office any more. Gee, it’s such a mystery.

April 16, 2014

Game of Postpones

by at 10:39 am.

Who here is a fan of the HBO series, Game of Thrones? The world of the books/series revolves around the utter instability and chaos, war, and madness that is brought about by Westeros’ sudden and not-quite-accidental regime change. King Baratheon might not have been the smartest or the best king ever, but his demise heralds the end of the relative peace of the Seven Kingdoms, with his queen’s non-Baratheon bastard children vying with other contenders for the Iron Throne, and the whole countryside erupting in war. Other families take advantage of the chaos to carve out and reclaim their little kingdoms which had been absorbed long ago. Still others just like to party by judicious use of castration and torture, mostly for fun.

Well, folks, take away the castration and violence (but not the drinking) and you have Lowell city politics right now.

Every decision made in the last seven years by past City Councils and the former CM is up for grabs, apparently. No matter how stringent the public involvement in deciding on plans for various projects in the city, be that the very preliminary, not-our-goddamned-decision high school reno or rebuild, or the much-lauded plans for the historic South Common, or any Master Plan element of bike paths or city street realignment or other projects already in the works.

I wouldn’t be surprised at this point if this City Council wanted a redo on the Appleton Mill artist lofts or the Early garage. I mean, hey, we could tear down or repurpose those things and hand them over to your buddies, right?

Supposedly, we have high level experts on the Council now on economic development. What I want to know, is how running a dive bar makes one qualified to build a high school? Or decide that street parking should have less turnover by not enforcing the meters? To me, every word that comes out of Corey Belanger’s mouth showcases a total and absolute lack of understanding of economic development and municipal management. Far be it for experts to have an opinion; Corey is on the job now, so Lowell is gonna make a turnaround. A renaissance. All of the downtown vacancies will be filled by the time his first term is over!

Or, wait. Businesses - small ones, and large ones - like stability when they make their business decisions. They like to know that the plans that were carefully made by transparent and open means, by a crew of amazing (now mostly fled) Planning and Development officials, will be carried out in a timely fashion. It’s no big secret that a lot of plans in Lowell were on hold during the Cox era and were put back on the front burner by the Lynch administration. Now, we’re going to reverse years worth of planning, public participation, and decision making because Corey Belanger wasn’t fucking paying attention during all of that?

Plans can change. Don’t get me wrong. We should be flexible. And I do not have a horse in the very silly race about the high school staying in or moving from downtown. There are merits on both sides. However, my understanding of the process as outlined by a state agency called Massachusetts School Building Authority is that they are the entity that gets to weigh all the factors. What the local idiots on Council can do, by waffling, is take us off the shortlist, which we cannot afford. The high school is in need of either rebuilding or renovating, soon. And “soon” is relative, since getting on the MSBA’s short list means it’ll still take years to go through final decision making. And oh yeah, they, not us, make that final determination about renovation vs. building a new building elsewhere. Based - GASP! - NOT on whatever private developer wants to build something (god knows what, they have yet to say) on the existing high school site, BUT…based on what is best for the students and their education.

I know, shocking.

So who wins in this Game of Postpones? Well, not the students, if Corey Belanger gets his way as an apparently honorary member of the School Committee and of the MSBA. PS - apparently, Mistah Mayah also has an extremely short memory, since all of this planning and participation and discussion happened while he was a City Councilor. So, either he’s dumb and doesn’t remember, or he never really paid any attention to what was going on in the city for the last seven years. Neither explanation is encouraging.

March 17, 2014

Yuks, and Yucks (Updated)

by at 1:29 pm.

Well, I did it. I waded into the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast for the first time ever. I got to sit at the “citizen media group” table, the sign for which, according to seat mate and fellow blogger Greg Page (who was scoring the joke brackets a couple seats away), drew a lot of questions as people walked by.

I took the liberty of shooting a few videos and posting on YouTube. My camera angle was bad and so was my use of the camera, which I was still figuring out how to film video with. Apologies in advance. Luckily, there is an official Channel 22 taping coming eventually and I highly recommend catching that if you want better footage.

It’s all on the flip: (more…)

February 25, 2014

BotW: Take Two, But Later

by at 12:45 pm.

Sorry for the late post. This meeting snuck up on me! Well, not really, but…

Any picks from last week are carrying over to this week for agenda items which are from last week’s cancelled meeting. I’ve marked them in red. Any other item is still up for grabs! One guess per person, one per each item, and the less likely the item appears to be blowup material, the bigger the prize. Cthuhlu is safely out of my house and in joe from lowell’s hands, so I can stop watching my back, and I’m working on the next prize.

Here is the agenda as it stands for tonight (red items are already taken):

1 MAYOR’S BUSINESS
1.1 Citations - Jack Trottier and Paul Sickinger, Seniors at Tyngsboro High School, for their community service work in collaboration with the Lowell Fire Department to collect winter coats for the homeless and those in need. 

Citation - Arnaldo and Carmen Silva in recognition of new business, Sao Miquel Restaurant.

2 CITY CLERK
2.1 Minutes of City Council Meeting February 11th, for acceptance.

3 CITY AUDITOR
3.1 Communication – Paid vacation and sick leave from 1/1/2010 – 2/12/2014. 

Communication - Paid vacation and sick leave email request. (original motion) 

Communication - FY 2014 Audit.

4 UTILITY PUBLIC HEARINGS
4.1 National Grid/Verizon NE – Request pole location at 59 South Whipple St.

5 COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE CITY MANAGER
5.1 Communication Summary

Motion Responses

(A) Motion Response - ShotSpotter
(B) Motion Response - Properly mark parking spaces on Dublin Street as parking for COA employees only
(C) Motion Response - Update on redevelopment of the Rialto Building
(D) Motion Response - Kearney Square Bridge Update
(E) Motion Response - MSBA Claims

Informational 

(F) Informational - MCC Flier - Lowell Crit Infrastr Forum of 2-24-14
(G) Informational - Resignation Letter
(H) Informational - Net School Spending

5.2 Communication-Accept Resignation of Troix Bettencourt (Hunger/Homeless Comm)
5.3 Communication - Mgr. Out of State Travel (1) DPD.

6 VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
6.1 Vote-Authorize City Manager Execute Third Amendment to LDA with Trinity Hamilton Partnership
6.2 Vote-Transfer $2M from Chapter 17 account to School Dept

7 ORDINANCES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
7.1 Ordinance-Quarterly Traffic (Feb)

8 REPORTS (SUB / COMMITTEE, IF ANY)
8.1 Zoning SC 02-25-14.
8.2 Wire Insp. - National Grid - Electrical Main installation on Industrial Avenue and Stevens Street. 

9 PETITIONS
9.1 Claims (3) claim for property damage.

10 CITY COUNCIL - MOTIONS

10.1 C. Leahy – Req. Rules SC consider as a recommendation that the Mayor’s portrait be completed within the first 3 months of his or her inauguration.
10.2 C. Leahy - Req. City Mgr. provide update regarding the Methadone Clinic site on Steadman St.
10.3 C. Leahy/C. Samaras - Req. City Mgr. discuss plans to address the School Budget shortfall prior to his departure.
10.4 C. Leahy/M. Elliott - Req. City Mgr. have proper Dept. Heads (City and School) involved with snow removal meet with Municipal Facilities SC to discuss snow removal.
10.5 C. Kennedy – Req. City Council and City Mgr. discuss the letter dated January 31, 2014 from the Mass. Commission of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding School Budget shortfall.
10.6 C. Kennedy/C. Leahy – Req. Mayor create a City Council SC dedicated to working with merchants and property owners to enhance and improve the commercial environment in the Central Business District.
10.7 C. Kennedy - Req. City Mgr. instruct the DPW Commissioner create an improved plan for snow removal in the Central Business District.
10.8 C. Kennedy - Req. City Mgr. and Acting City Mgr. begin the process of hiring a CFO to continue to formulate the City Budget until a permanent CFO is hired.
10.9 C. Kennedy - Req. City Mgr. explain why the City Administration and the Health Dept. chose not to undertake an RFP process for the City ambulance contract.
10.1 C. Mercier - Req. City Mgr. have proper department install 2 signs (No Parking Here To Corner) at both corners of Roper St. and Rockingham St.
10.11 C. Mercier - Req. permission to discuss and question snow removal and parking issues on Roper St. and adress public safety issues.
10.12 M. Elliott – Req. City Council discuss setting up a joint Ad Hoc SC with City Council/School Committee to initiate discussion of high school and facility assessment report.
10.13 M. Elliott – Req. City Council discuss making Galligan Rd. a one way street.
10.14 M. Elliott - Req. City Council discuss public participation process for the location of the recycling center.
11 CITY COUNCIL - EXECUTIVE SESSION
11.1 Executive Session to discuss and release minutes of Executive Session meeting on January 21, 2014 and any other minutes that should be designated to be made public from executive sessions.
11.2 Executive Session regarding litigation report, public discussion of which could have a detrimental effect on the City’s position.

February 20, 2014

A Lesson For Rodney On Reserves

by at 12:22 am.

I wanted to take a moment to teach our new Mayor some things he already ought to know about the city’s money reserves, about saving taxpayer dollars, and proper budgeting. Since he thinks he knows better than a professional city manager who has taken us from negative $4.5M in reserves to a cozy but not complete positive, and all of that negative drawdown of free cash and then some happened on Rodney’s watch during the Cox years, I figured maybe he just doesn’t really understand budgets. I mean, he claims to all the time, dubbing himself a fiscal watchdog, but every time he opens his mouth, he belies this supposed expertise.

I hope he finds this primer informative! I certainly look forward to his better understanding showing itself in future discussions. Click to read more: (more…)

February 19, 2014

Net School Bullshit

by at 8:14 pm.

I’m watching the School Committee meeting, where Conway had a motion about the net school spending deficit, and of course Rodney had to have his say, stepping off the podium to foam at the mouth (I’m only slightly exaggerating). In fact, he claims that all this money being socked away into the rainy day fund was overly excessive and we should have been putting money towards the schools!

He wants to claim this net school spending problem lies at the feet of the last Mayor and Bernie Lynch. Oh, how quickly we forget (bold mine):

UPDATED: 10/17/2011 10:31:02 AM EDT
The councilor said his proposal still leaves $500,000 for Lynch to spend on other pressing needs.

Councilor Patrick Murphy has filed a motion requesting Lynch consider the city’s adopted strategic and fiscal management goals for property-tax relief, as well as net school spending, minimum reserves and snow-and-ice removal budgeting when deciding how to use the additional local aid.

Murphy said it is difficult to determine the exact amount of funding that should go toward limiting the increase in property taxes before the city determines its other financial needs, but he believes tax relief should be a “significant part” of any plan Lynch devises for using the local-aid money.

Putting money toward snow-and-ice budgeting will reduce the size of the snow-and-ice deficit for the next budget cycle, and placing some of the funding in the city’s reserves would boost the city’s long-term fiscal health, he said.

“One thing listed as a way to boost our bond rating was putting aside some reserves,” Murphy said.

Councilor Rodney Elliott, chairman of the council’s finance subcommittee, last week said he would like Lynch to put all $1.5 million toward reducing the planned tax increase because taxpayers are struggling to pay their bills. Elliott was the lone councilor to vote against the budget because of the tax increases it included.

Lynch told The Sun last week he would like to use “several hundred thousand dollars” to reduce the planned tax hike, but he is reluctant to use all of the new state funding for tax relief because of the one-time nature of the funds and other needs in the city.

[…]

The council voted last week to approve Elliott’s motion asking Lynch to develop a plan to put potential savings from any health-care agreement he works out with the city’s unions toward reducing property taxes.

Lynch said he is negotiating with city unions and hopes to reach a health-care agreement with them by mid-December to reduce the city’s health-care spending next fiscal year.

That negotiation with city unions on health care produced the savings that was looked for. I have yet to find the article where Rodney complains about putting that money into tax breaks, and not towards net school spending.

February 17, 2014

BotW: Zombie Portrait Edition

by at 10:17 am.

So the first prize is done, and the winner from last week has picked her prize out so I will be starting on it forthwith, but, there’s a chance to win every week! If you made it through last week’s marathon Council meeting…well, you are a trooper. Hopefully you had the cool beverage of your choice to keep you company.

We have some weird ones this week - the mayoral portrait issue is back, in an unfathomable motion to require that the mayor’s portrait be completed within the first three months of a term. Huh?

Of course, the school budget thing is back. We’ll be hearing about this for weeks. Apparently, some people think it’s Bernie’s “audit letter” which is patently absurd, but then again, absurd is the name of the game…funny, these asshats were never so concerned about some *decades* of past school net funding shortfalls. I’d be surprised at the hypocrisy but, who’m I kidding?

So, same rules as always. One guess per person, one person per item, and the more obscure or surprising the Blowup is the bigger the prize. Discuss!

1 MAYOR’S BUSINESS
1.1 Citations - Jack Trottier and Paul Sickinger, Seniors at Tyngsboro High School, for their community service work in collaboration with the Lowell Fire Department to collect winter coats for the homeless and those in need.

2 CITY CLERK
2.1 Minutes of City Council Meeting February 11th, for acceptance.

3 CITY AUDITOR
3.1 Communication – Paid vacation and sick leave from 1/1/2010 – 2/12/2014.

4 UTILITY PUBLIC HEARINGS
4.1 National Grid/Verizon NE – Request pole location at 59 South Whipple St.

5 COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE CITY MANAGER
5.1 Communication Summary 

Motion Responses 

(A) Motion Response - ShotSpotter 

Informational 

(B) Informational - MCC Flier - Lowell Crit Infrastr Forum of 2-24-14 
(C) Informational - Resignation Letter 

5.2 Communication-Accept Resignation of Troix Bettencourt (Hunger/Homeless Comm)

6 REPORTS (SUB / COMMITTEE, IF ANY)
6.1 Economic Development SC 02-18-14.
6.2 Wire Insp. - National Grid - Electrical Main installation on Industrial Avenue and Stevens Street. 

7 PETITIONS
7.1 Claims (1) claim for property damage.

8 CITY COUNCIL - MOTIONS
8.1 C. Leahy – Req. Rules SC consider as a recommendation that the Mayor’s portrait be completed within the first 3 months of his or her inauguration.
8.2 C. Kennedy – Req. City Council and City Mgr. discuss the letter dated January 31, 2014 from the Mass. Commission of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding School Budget shortfall.
8.3 C. Kennedy/C. Leahy – Req. Mayor create a City Council SC dedicated to working with merchants and property owners to enhance and improve the commercial environment in the Central Business District.
8.4 M. Elliott – Req. City Council discuss setting up a joint Ad Hoc SC with City Council/School Committee to initiate discussion of high school and facility assessment report.
8.5 M. Elliott – Req. City Council discuss making Galligan Rd. a one way street.

9 CITY COUNCIL - EXECUTIVE SESSION
9.1 Executive Session to discuss and release minutes of Executive Session meeting on January 21, 2014 and any other minutes that should be designated to be made public from executive sessions.
9.2 Executive Session regarding litigation report, public discussion of which could have a detrimental effect on the City’s position.
10 Time for meeting to stand adjourned.

November 12, 2013

AtB: Handling Pans

by at 3:19 pm.

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.

November 6, 2013

Perspective

by at 8:42 am.

Here are some next-day observations I have about yesterday’s election results.

We did see increased turnout. 11,581 is still a pathetic number of registered voters (20.6%) voting to select our local government. I’m not satisfied. Obviously not just on who got elected to Council, but also just on the fact that less than 30% (which is also not a non-pathetic number) are the deciders on who serves on our Council and school committees.

Name recognition, funding, and city connections still win elections. I note that the only first-time candidates who make it on the council (besides Franky who worked hard during what was a huge change election, and Murphy who basically knocked more doors than humanly possible) are longtime city names, generally townies. I think this is bound to change, as the very old demographic which are the “strong city voters” are…well, old. This is going to continue to put downward pressure on turnout, which is a big problem. If we get to the point of 4-6,000 voters turning out in local elections, that will be very disappointing, of course. But that older townie demo consistently pushes the big connected names onto the Council. (I know Rourke worked hard, but did he have the campaign apparatus that Derek did? I tend to doubt it. The hardest-working candidates aren’t always the one to win, if they don’t have those deep personal connections to the strong city voter.)

Newcomers who are “blowins” (as in, no long standing familial and friend connections in Lowell among the strong, older, city voters) did pretty spectacular considering. In particular, Derek should be toutin’ proud of his 12th place finish, precisely 350 votes behind 9th place. If he runs again, with the same vim and vigor and as a seasoned campaigner, he not only makes the Council, he probably gets up higher in the ranks. A strong 12th place can mean a 5th or 6th placement the second time around.

I am heartbroken for the Cambodian community. I hope they, and the engaged younger southeast Asian voters people like Van Pech bring to the table, use this loss to make themselves stronger. Don’t give up. You are a huge demographic in this city, and you are part of this city’s future. A good way to bring this about is to do some voter education and registration in the meantime, before the next election season starts, and keep running candidates!

The same can be said of the younger (what the pundits term “new Lowell”) voters and candidates who back people like Stacie Hargis and Derek Mitchell. Don’t give up, get active! You are the future. The past is just making a last gasp right now, but it can’t sustain itself much longer.

We seem to wave back and forth every single election. The 2005 election which elected Ramirez and ousted Cox. Then the Kaz/Lenzi 2007 Empire Strikes Back election. Then ousting them in favor of Murphy and Descoteaux in 2009. Then a reprieve (I guess Kaz really pissed people off in the previous Council) in 2011. Now we’re seeing The Empire Strikes Back Part II with the Dailey-backed (I cant’t wait to get my hands on the finance reports) Belanger and Rourke. That means in two years we’re due for a flip again - here’s hoping professional city management can survive til then.

Speaking of professional city management, this new Council is not guaranteed going to get rid of Lynch. There are only four definite no’s on a new contract. The rest are all lean-yes (Rita Mercier and John Leahy), or definite yes. They need to hear from constituents that Lynch is doing the job the city wants. Don’t be shy on calling them over the next year (contract is up in August).

Also speaking of contract/no contract, it’s plain to me that voters (who are not attentive to the blogs or other outlets) do not vote based on the core values of city management. On the one hand, it’s plain that the people of Lowell really like Lynch a lot. They’re happy with the direction of the city. They’d be pretty pissed, I think, if the Council gets rid of him. On the other hand, ink-master Elliot gets to rank #2 (the ink, I’m convinced, is why he gets to #2). Voters have not connected the basic issues at stake in these elections - frankly, because the Sun doesn’t want them to, and fails to educate them on this. The voter demo that shows up still gets the paper. This is only going to last so long, as the younger voters (people under age 50) are a whole different animal, but for now, we’re stuck with the awful paper blog of record and its agenda.

And I do think that the most important core issue at stake in our elections lately is legitimately “contract or no contract.” In other words, are we hiring/keeping professional technocrats as City Managers or do we go back to hiring unqualified hack former politicians (often ones with ethics problems) who not only can’t do the job, but also use the position for personal and political gain for their friends? The whole worm turns on what attitude our city council has towards the city manager position. We all know what names are bandied about to replace Lynch every couple of years (state Rep. Murphy, former state Sen Panagiotakos, etc). Those people would be short-lived and disastrous for the city. Is Pangy a fairly smart dude? Sure. Is he qualified to run a freaking city? Hells NO. And his hack history isn’t that great either. (Frankly, our entire House delegation could leave tomorrow and I’d be super happy. Thank goodness we have Sen. Donoghue at least!)

The Mayor selection is a little stickier than the CM contract, in my opinion. I have some thoughts on that but prefer to leave the details to others. Those chips will have to fall where they fall. However, I will state one thing: Can you imagine super-negative Elliot as the Chair of the School Committee? I urge the next Council to seriously consider the damage someone like him can do on the most important job of Mayor, chairing the SC. Also, I don’t think we should reward such negative behavior with a mayorship. It sets a bad precedent. And the worse precedent that if you wait long enough, it becomes “your turn.” Bollocks.

My last thoughts are this: I’m taking serious consideration as to how we engage more voters in these elections. I’m tired of a tiny minority of this city (myself included) deciding for 100,000 people who should run their local government. It’s time for a non-partisan “League of Lowell Voters” to find ways to reach the non-city voter and get them engaged. Again, I have some ideas for that. Unfortunately because this blog is so “partisan” (not just in the liberal sense but in the supporting a certain type of candidate sense) that any effort I make will get a Gerry-Nutter-for-Election-Commission type welcome. I know I’ve made some enemies (fairly and legitimately - by truth telling!) but seriously, I’ve had it up to my eyeballs on the turnout issue. Anyone else feel the same way? If enough people are mad as hell and won’t take it any more, something could be accomplished.

[powered by WordPress.]


If you are not on Twitter and want to follow our feed on Facebook, click "Like" for our FB page.
BadgermillCity logo

Pages:

Recent Posts

Search

Categories:

Archives:

September 2014
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Other:

Email us!

(replace spaces, ['s, symbols)
Lynne | Mimi

Lowell Area Bloggers/Forums

Lowell Politics

Mass Bloggers

Politics Online

The Arts in Lowell

Trad Local Media

56 queries. 1.225 seconds