Left In Lowell

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2013 Candidate Questionnaire Responses!
 

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.

November 2, 2013

Dropped Lit or Dropped Ball?

by at 5:21 pm.

Took a spin around Lowell, except The Belvidere. Not much literature out, considering it is the weekend before.

If you saw lit, got lit, or dropped lit, please chime in. (I’m not talking mailed lit.)

I saw a bunch of Mitchell lit in Ward 8, Ward 10, Ward 11. Saw Kim Scott in Ward 9. Also, Ward 9: Joe Mendonca.

Saw lit in Lower Belvidere, but it was rolled up, so I couldn’t make out who it was for.

I heard Leahy was out in Ward 9 & Rourke was out in Ward 8.

October 20, 2013

A Blogger’s Sin

by at 1:11 pm.

Thou shall not impede The Sun’s meddling in local affairs.

In the role of “activist newspaper,” The Sun is legend.

In the wait-your-turn political culture of Lowell and nearby Lawrence, Kerry was a carpetbagger trying to cherrypick a seat in Congress.

In the general election campaign, Kerry was lashed relentlessly by The Sun, which questioned his patriotism, his loyalty to the district, and his financial backers. He blew a huge lead and lost to the Republican nominee, Paul W. Cronin, a former state representative who had served on Morse’s staff.

Suddenly, the fast track to political glory vanished beneath the feet of the war hero turned war protester. …
-snip

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September 24, 2013

Open Thread: Turn Out Context Edition

by at 4:00 pm.

I’m not going to lie. Some of the candidates DON’T want more Lowellians to participate. They will lie through their teeth, but they want the outcome they desire. Elections are about winning. Democracy can come out of governing. Or, so they delude themselves to believe.

You and I know, that once they WIN, they govern to WIN AGAIN! Democracy goes out the window, unless we grab it back.

A few years back, we collected and analyzed some data. (h/t Dr. Marcus Luna) Unfortunately, the opportunities to have municipal preliminaries, in this century, were squandered. So, we only have so much data to interpolate from.

Let’s not moan or cheer any turn out numbers from tonight. Unless, we take it with a grain of salt and a heavy dose of context.


(more…)

September 20, 2013

Open Thread: GOTV Edition

by at 11:30 am.

I think this is a big deal: Lowell Voter Turnout Study

So, does Derek Mitchell:

The data speaks for itself.

 photo LocalElectionTO.jpg

We can change this. We should change this.

Please Rock The Vote on this Open Thread.

August 31, 2013

It Is Time To “Get Into It.”

by at 11:27 am.

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.

Nixon laughed when I told him this. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I, too, am a family man, and we feel the same way about you.” - Hunter S. Thompson, 1994

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.”
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August 19, 2013

School Committees Neglected!

by at 8:10 pm.

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.

August 16, 2013

WWYA? (What Would You Ask?)

by at 10:07 pm.

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…

August 9, 2013

Doing Your Job ≠ Harrassment (Updated)

by at 10:44 am.

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.

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