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It has been a busy week in Lowell politics and the happenings at the Greater Lowell Technical High School have not yet reached the level of public discussion it deserves.
Evan Lips, Lowell Sun reporter, has the story in today’s edition of the paper.
To recap, newly-elected GLTHS Committeeman Eric Gitschier had asked the Superintendent Mary Jo Santoro about funds either missing or mismanaged at the School. When she did not provide an answer, he submitted a motion.
At Thursday night’s meeting, committee member Erik Gitschier’s motions launched public discussion of the allegations. An attorney representing the school stressed there was no money currently missing from any of the district’s accounts.
The motion to order Santoro to produce a report about the incident carried by a 6-2 vote, with Chairman Michael Lenzi and Secretary George O’Hare casting the two votes against.
According to the Sun, the individual who is at the center of this controversy is related to the Superintendent.
I am shocked that two School Committeemen, both representing Lowell, would oppose bringing a report forward. I cannot believe they would vote against a public report. Imagine if this was the Lowell School Committee? How about if it was the City Council and the City Manager?
If this kind of situation had occurred at City Hall during his tenure on the Lowell City Council, would GLTHS Committee Chair Lenzi have said “I don’t want to know about it and I don’t think the committee needs to know about it.” Really?
In the past, the GLTHS Committee has had issues with transparency and accountability. The 6 - 2 vote affirms that the majority wants that perception and reality changed. Now we need to have the other two understand that.
Although the GLTHS Committee broadcast its meeting live via webcam, the recording of this meeting has not yet available through local access television. As soon as that occurs, I post the on-demand link.
A friend who lives in Lowell sent me this link to a LGBT blog towleroad . This past weekend in Puerto Rico a 19-year-old gay man, Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was murdered, his body was partially burned, his head decapitated and his limb dismembered. The story was disturbing on many levels.
In addition to the brutality of this hate crime, I found it disturbing that this story did not make the mainstream media. After I received the e-mail from my friend, I went on line and searched. Yes, you could find the story on some web sites, such as CNN, but I had to search for it.
Have we become desensitized to these types of crime? Is Puerto Rico too far away from the mainland for us not be concerned?
City Councilor Challenger Joe Mendonca’s campaign committee is hosting a fundraiser this week:
Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Time: 7 – 9 p.m.
Location: Portuguese American Center on Charles Street
Requested Contribution: $25
The City Council will soon (August 11th) reverse the decision they took last year by a vote 6-3 (R. Mercier; K. Broderick; and R. Elliott voting against) to change their meeting schedule from weekly to bi-weekly(forthnightly definition; not the twice a week one) . At the time the vote was taken, they had decided to revisit it down the road. Well, I guess we have reached the end of the road.
CC Rita Mercier did present a motion, a few months back, to have a discussion on the impact of the rule change. However, they had agreed to give the new schedule additional time to play itself out so that they would have a better sense of how it is working (not).
When the CC originally decided to change their meeting schedule to the 2nd and 4th week of the month, the primary reason given was to allow Sub-Committees to meet on Tuesday without being “rushed.” And they thought they would have more Sub-Committee meetings. Well, it didn’t work.
Jen Myers’ article in yestertoday’s Sun said it best “Council Chamber often remain dark on alternate Tuesdays, with many subcommittee meetings still being held before regular council meetings.”
I think when CC R. Mercier filed her motion for review, the majority of them knew it was not working. All they had to do was assess how many Sub-Committee meetings were taking place every other Tuesday, between the hours of 6:30 – 11:00 to determine if what they intended to do was really occurring and which CC members were showing up.
As it was mentioned by a number of City Councilors during the Sub-Committee meeting yesterday, the decision created confusion among the residents of Lowell; you really need to pay attention if you did not want to lose track of what was going on.
The weekly meeting schedule goes back into effect in October since the Summer schedule (bi-weekly meeting) runs through September.
In addition to the three members of the Rules Sub-Committee (J. Millinazzo, R. Mercier and A. Mercier), CCs K. Broderick, R. Elliott and A. Kazanjian were in attendance and participated during the Sub-Committee. The author of the original motion, CC M. Lenzi, was not present at the Sub-Committee meeting to defend his position.
We now have a Lowell Office of Cultural Affairs and Special Events , headed up by the current director of COOL. It seems rather anticlimactic when you consider what it took to get here (moving at the speed of government, or rather, the speed of consensus) but with the nest-protecting language that was added, it passed, 8-1.
I think this is not merely a simple moment in the city’s politics. The impact will be felt for the rest of this Council’s term. The Cultural Office itself will have its mark to make of course, but I don’t just mean for the creative economy here. I mean this episode will have an impact for how things will get done in the city over the next couple of years. This was one of the first major battles between what the city needs to move forward, and the objections of people trying to protect and serve the status quo. On balance, progress - and City Manager Lynch - won. And it won on the merits of the case.
Of course, there are bigger battles to fight, evidenced by the reaction of some who opposed the new Cultural Office in the first round. The protectionism surrounding the Auditorium or the MV Convention and Visitor’s Bureau should not exclude them from the same scrutiny that COOL has just received. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Lynch presented a breakdown on COOL’s budget to the Councilors at the request (past motion) of Mayor Caulfield yesterday. I’m not sure what the intent was on the motion, though I don’t believe it’s a bad thing to outline COOL’s funding and accomplishments. I do fear future death-by-motion movements wherein we see government hampered by excessive micro-managing by the Council simply for the sake of making life more difficult for Lynch (for example, we should be due for another “Request – City – Manager – Lynch – to – report – on – the – homeless – shelters – and – what – can – we – do – to – shut – them – down” from Councilor K. at some point soon). But if we have done this for COOL, I want to see this done for all the marketing monies the city spends, be it the Tsongas or the CVB.
However, on balance, things are still headed on the right track. Despite extremely tough times for the budget, we seem to be making some progress. Not as much as we’d like but it’s better than going backwards. The future payoff should be in the form of a fiscally healthier city, one where structural deficits are unseen and smart investments in growth allows us to fully fund our schools, infrastructure repairs, and services. This despite the “majority” of elected Councilors who ran campaigns about being angry about the past and their opposition to moving on. Doesn’t “I’m for Cox” seem like a lifetime ago?
The more intelligent will decide that it’s better to lay claim to good works than oppose them, and the fools will never learn. Which are whom only time will tell…
I want to echo the sentiments expressed in “The Column” in yesterday’s Sun. Yes, they quickly forget. The “they” are those critics of the contract between the City and the AHL Devils for their use of the Tsongas Arena. The forgetting is the full court press in some circles to dismiss the events of last winter and spring..
According to the Column, not only is in-coming U. Mass Lowell Chancellor and current Congressman Marty Meehan pressuring the City to renegotiate the University’s agreement with the City concerning the Tsongas Arena. The Chancellor-select has been joined by the stealth-like Lowell Civic Stadium and Arena Commission.
Where were these people last winter and spring? Their only job is to “Advises the City Manager on issues pertaining to the Lowell Arena and the Civic Stadium.” (more…)
This is the second-to-last day for our Fundraising Week here at Left in Lowell! You can read our call for donations here.
To everyone who sent in a donation, thank you so much! I should have enough to at least take my co-bloggers out to dinner, pay myself back for some recent overhead including the convention, and maybe start designing some bumper stickers. I will have to sell them at cost instead of giving them away, but handing out free swag was always somewhat of a dream anyways.
As always, any donations are confidential and we are not a non-profit, so it’s not tax-deductible.
As stated in a previous post and the graphic in the header, it’s Fundraising Week for the blog. For all the reasons stated, please consider a donation - small or large - if you have some spare change. Of course, anyone who donates will get a free bumper sticker once I get them printed! I’ve been thinking I will need to charge for them to cover the cost of printing (I’d like to give them to everyone for free, and if there’s enough donations, I still might).
Thanks to everyone who has already donated, this week or in the past!
Donors will be kept confidential of course, and we are not a non-profit so donations are not tax-deductible.
We recently celebrated our one year anniversary here at Left in Lowell, as regular readers know.
I debated whether or not I should have a LiL fundraising week. I decided to go with it. I am in good company with such blogs as AMERICAblog, I suppose!
Even though my overhead for hosting this blog is fairly tiny (my traffic is light compared to the big national blogs), there are several reasons I am asking for donations. First, I really want to have some nice bumper stickers printed up that I can give out to anyone who wants one. I’ve wanted to do this for months, but it costs money I don’t have, and besides, I want really nice ones. No white and red hack jobs for us!
Next, I would at least like to take my co-bloggers out for a nice dinner, to thank them for their amazing contribution to the blog. They’ve brought new perspectives and different interests with them to share with you, and they deserve at least that much. (Note to co-bloggers, I better not see any donations from you! You do enough already.)
I also need to pay for some unexpected overhead such as for the Democratic convention coverage this past weekend. 25 hours of internet in the media room cost me about $60, plus of course meals, rooming, etc. If I want to keep going to these sorts of events, I need to have some sort of way of paying for it that doesn’t include jeopardizing my family’s future - like our down payment for a home. If you donate this week, Mr. Lynne will thank you!
And finally, because I spend a lot of time away from my business to work on this blog. I do it gladly, and will continue to do it even if not one donation comes in this week. But if you think this blog is worth the cost of a week’s worth of coffee, we would be very grateful. Of course, I do not want your money if you don’t have any to spare. I know what that’s like. I’m not interested in anyone going broke on my behalf.
We don’t have ads to help pay for any of this and I’m not really interesting in going that route. I have enough clutter in my side bars! So, if you’d like to keep this site ad-free, and you like what we do, please consider a donation this week. You can pay via a Paypal account or with a credit card if you don’t have one.
[Addendum: Just a side note: any money I take in via this website is not for charity, it would be a for-profit part of my business. So it’s not tax-deductible.]
[Addendum II: Obviously, your info will remain private by default, unless you post a comment yourself. Thanks to those who’ve already donated!]
Thanks so much,
I thought I would upload some of the photos I took this morning…click on them to enlarge.
Please note: I hate IE. Stupid CSS float workarounds…
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