Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Richard Nixon is gone now, and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing — a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that “I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.”
I have had my own bloody relationship with Nixon for many years, but I am not worried about it landing me in hell with him. I have already been there with that bastard, and I am a better person for it. Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Nixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together.
Not long ago, I was sent on an errand to pick up some stuff at the Bridge St. DeMoula’s. Being on the Dracut line, it goes without saying, the place is teeming with Dracuteers. Standing in the express line, I overheard two older gentlemen discussing the upcoming vote on school funding. Their demeanor and body language was controlled, if not cordial. But, at one point, the man espousing certain fiscal ‘truths’ pulled back from getting heated, stating, “I don’t want to ‘get into it, here.”
In Lowell, the municipal election is pending. We need to “get into it.”
Hey guys, awesome questions for the Council race both on the blog and in email…seriously, you are all wicked smaht!
But I feel that we need more Lowell School Committee and GLTHS Committee questions!
So, especially if you are a parent, or have been paying close attention to the school side, I would love some more input for those questionnaires. We might not have that many challengers, but we should still know where our candidates stand on the issues facing our schools.
It’s that time again! — To make a tea sandwich? To make bubbles with our spit? No, it’s questionnaire time! (Ten points to the first in comments to get the references here, without Googling!)
We’re doing something a little different this time, almost like going back yet something totally new. It was inspired by the Globe’s Boston mayoral questions, outlined here by BMG. In that, we’re going to go back to “written” (well, hopefully, typed for the most part) questionnaires. But with a twist.
We’ll be doing a series of yes/no questions, no elaboration, with which to publish a matrix table of answers. Then, also, a few essay questions that the candidates can use to elaborate on their platforms and values. The matrix is useful to see where people stand on some of the most important issues, quickly, and to compare apples to apples in regards to your vote. The essays will give candidates a chance to be verbose.
By the way, I reserve the right to fill in yes/no answers to questions for candidates who do NOT reply, if their stand on that question is known and published elsewhere. It would behoove candidates, even those who despise LiL, to answer, since we ask everyone the same set of questions and publish the answers without prejudice. I suspect we’ll not hear from a one of “them,” but it’s their loss.
What we want is reader input. This is for two reasons…first, I’m lazy. I can come up with a lotta questions as can Jack, but hey! Spread the work around! We all work for free after all! Second, and of course the really important reason, is that we want to ask questions on issues YOU care about the most. So, think up questions, on any subject pertaining to the elections, and it might just make it into the official questionnaire! If you want to email me directly instead of post in comments, my email is of course lynne [at] leftinlowell.com (replace [at] with @, no spaces).
PS - even though the two school committees are rather sparse for challengers, feel free to give us questions for those races as well!!
OK, have at. Wheel of Morality turn turn turn…
Despite the crappiness that appears to be the Lowell Sun’s new website (the sidebar ads are covering half the content, they have the worst, most pixelized photo of Gitschier imaginable…they must have pulled it off Google…and the layout of Santoro’s picture is whacked and the photo overly ginormous) we finally find out the results of the internal investigation of the claim by former Superintendent and current golden parachute retiree Mary Jo Santoro, that School Committee member Eric Gitschier “harassed” her by making too many motions asking for accountability.
That result? No there there. Move along folks.
Today at 5pm is the last moment one can turn in signatures for municipal races, so by tomorrow we’ll know the field. There are still a number of declared candidates who had not turned in their papers yesterday, so it should be interesting. (Remember, candidates need 50 certified Lowell voter signatures to make the ballot.)
Mike Hayden has declared he is not returning his papers for the Greater Lowell Tech School Committee. So much for my free entertainment for the rest of the election cycle! Sad panda.
As for the City Council, it seems to me, fewer and fewer people are running every cycle. This could be due to a number of things…I think most people are pretty content about the direction of the city (and the school district, since there is only a single challenger for that race). Or, people are too busy, and the number of people who can afford the time and effort to run is dwindling. Dick Howe would know better than me, since he has a long historical context with which to compare current events.
If we’re going to talk increased voter participation, we might want to start with the candidates. Personally, I think (at least initially) making some of the seats district-based would bring in candidates who otherwise would take a pass. Running citywide is expensive and intimidating, and we’re a large enough place that we could sustain three, maybe four or five district seats. Again, mixing neighborhood representation with citywide elections would address the dearth of representation for some parts of the city, while keeping some “big picture” candidates in the Council. If you think having most candidates for Council/SC living in the posher parts of town and relying heavily on the high-voter turnout regions to win doesn’t affect policy in the city, then I have a bridge over the Merrimack to sell you…
Update (from Jack on Facebook):
Lowell has enough qualified candidates (19) to spur a Preliminary election, as of this post. There is one candidate with 44 vetted signatures, so we are close to 20.
Interesting. Love how people wait to the very last minute. Wondering if the City Council is gonna start talking about nixing the preliminary in September again…
I don’t think there’s been a prelim, by the way, since I moved to Lowell. No joke.
This November, when the sharpie in my hand hits the municipal ballot, it will first touch at Bill Martin’s name.
h/t to Mimi, who snagged this video from the last time ’shady Lowell’ came for Mayor Murphy.
Please do not respond to the negativity & histrionics that are puking forth, as the City election approaches, with contempt for politics or apathy. The strategery of ’shady Lowell’ is to turn you off and drive you away from the polling booth.
You know, as well as I, what we can do when we stand up to the insidious fog that hovers in the crevices of Lowell.
PS. The Blog of Record is separating the wheat from the chaff for you. I figure they’re explaining to “shady Lowell” who they should snub. (The “shadies” are slow on the uptake, if it doesn’t reek of under the table hack money.)
A lot, however, could come out in the wash that is November’s election. If there is little or no change on the City Council, a new contract could be hard to get. But if candidates like Stacie Hargis, James Milinazzo, Derek Mitchell and William Samaras get on, the prospects of Lynch getting a new deal are significantly higher.
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.
Update: Feedback is coming in on my observation of O’Hare indicating the option to run for the 2 year seat. Note the similarity of handwriting for the O’Hare and Bahou entries. Did the same person jot “GLTHS School Comm” down in the book?
Could this be a clerical error and I only made it worse by running it up the flagpole?
Update 2: I’m told that there was a miscommunication and that George O’Hare has made it understood that he intends to run for the full, four year term that he currently holds. So, read the rest of this diary with an awkward eye.
I’ll toss my crystal ball and take out the handy dandy ‘Magic 8 Ball.’
It would not strike me as odd, should you click away from ANOTHER one of my ‘Blog of Record’ rants. But here goes, and I think this one is a keeper.
Part I: Sabotage
Kim Scott wants to stop the gravy train of family hiring in the Lowell Public School System, especially for administrative staff.
She says there’s an epidemic of nepotism when it comes to hiring decisions in the schools. Job candidates should be treated equally, says Scott, and no one should get a leg up because of political or school connections.
On the face of it, it’s a well-intentioned idea from the Lowell School Committee member.
The way Scott sees it — and we do, too — there is a growing concentration of power among a few people who are charged with making important hiring decisions affecting the education of the city’s 14,800 students.
Suffice to say, The Sun editorial has hijacked Kim Scott’s effort and intent with the developing motion to place procedural safeguards to diminish the practice and /or perception of the practice of nepotism and other facsimiles, thereof. The words blockquoted above, ALL belong to the ghost writer. They try to frame Kim’s mindset to appear simpatico with their breathy, hyperventilating panics. But, Kim doesn’t need to sell newspapers. Campi does.
To read more of Kim’s direct comments on this matter, and the speculation whirling around it, please check out these links:
This episode, around the Lowell Public School District, is one of The Sun’s most reprehensible.
But, WHY has the Sun descended so low? Let’s dig in a little deeper. Please, hold your nose.
Sometimes I feel like Edith Bunker, bewildered and confused…at how the blindingly obvious problems in our city are a shock, a SHOCK! to everyone.
The appearance of nepotism - no matter the circumstances, or whether there real nepotism exists, whether or not qualified candidates have been passed over for family members of people in power - must be addressed, especially when taxpayer dollars are at stake…don’t you agree? Apparently, this is controversial, if you listen to the always-angling Lowell Sun’s “blog” page (I use that term very loosely) or certain other bloggers.
In case you don’t care to donate a pity click to either the Lowell Sun or to that other blogger (and in either case, who can blame you? we do the dirty work so you don’t have to…), School Committee member Kim Scott (and yes, a friend of ours) is raising the issue as a future motion, after a second close relative of a person in power in the Lowell School system managed, somehow, to be the best candidate for supervisory roles above up to 40 other candidates. (Specifically, in this case, the sister of Jay Lang, Deputy Superintendent, became the high school’s Director of the Freshman Academy. This after wife Lori Lang became the Assistant Principal at Pyne Arts last year.)
If this is not the definition of “appearance of impropriety”, I don’t know what could possibly qualify. (Of course, the same people lamenting that this is somehow not at least appearing improper also complain about one of a gazillion non-related campaign workers of the Governor’s becoming a part of his administration. Funny that.)
Gerry’s absolutely immature take is that “Lowellians need not apply.” Like Scott’s motion is somehow to ban Lowell residents from becoming staff members at the school. I won’t even *facepalm* that one, it’s so bad.
Here’s what the Sun managed not to report on their “blog,” which I got from Kim, both from her comments on the BTSNBN’ed (points for working out that acronym), and from her directly tonight, when we both attended Fred Bahou’s fundraiser for GLTHSC (another management clusterfuck if there ever was one): Kim Scott is not aiming at any particular member of the leadership of the school department. She is addressing an issue which is so blindingly obvious, Edith Bunker herself would be able to see it. If certain people in the administration see this as aiming at them…well, maybe said persons are defensive for a reason. Perhaps they have actions that require defending?
Runon sentences and parentheticals aside, the ridiculousness of the Sun’s “reporting” (that this is directed at Jay Lang) and the jumping to redonkulous conclusions from that other link, defy all reality. Honestly, it’s enough to make this very busy girl start blogging regularly again.
Where are the freaking adults? Do they still exist? Since when do we let our taxpayer dollars go unwatched? Suddenly, this kind of stuff is all right? I’m flabbergasted.
I’m sick and flippin’ tired of the whole “hire Lowellians” phraseology, which is simply a euphemism for “hire my friends and relatives.” But when someone hires someone else’s friends and relatives, oh, ho! All of a sudden, that’s bad!
Um, no. It’s always bad. This is why I support people like Kim, who operate under rules of fairness, not what they can get out of it for them and theirs. It’s how I pick my friends…by their honesty and above board behavior. I know I won’t be embarrassed by my friends. I know that when we disagree, it’s on the merits, and when we support each other, it’s also on the merits. And when hiring practices look sketchy - whether they are actually sketchy or not - I am glad that they are there to ask the right questions.
And you thought the School Committee race was gonna be boring this summer…
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