City Council Agenda January 27th 2015

GN: Based on the weather, this meeting will be postponed but here is the Agenda.


1.1. Minutes of City Council Meeting January 20th; Public Safety SC January 20th, for acceptance. COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE CITY MANAGER

2.1. Motion Responses
A. Install Bumper Strip and Guard Rails B. Municipal Aggregation – Gas Informational Reports
C. Year in Review 2014

2.2. Communication – City Mgr. request approval Out of State Travel (1) LPD.

3.1. Vote-Auth C/M Execute License Agreement 143 Merrimack Street – Bishops Legacy Restaurant (Overhanging Sign)
3.2. Vote-Auth C/M Execute Easement to Klas Romberg and Anita Romberg across City owned parcel on Fairview Street
3.3. Vote-Auth C/M Execute MOU between MCC and City re: Installation of Public Safety Communications System
3.4. Vote-Declare Surplus and Convey 29 Queen St to (Mr. Patel for $2,442 and to Ms. Ouch for $1,558)

4.1. Order of Taking and Acceptance of Asbury Way REPORTS (SUB / COMMITTEE, IF ANY)

5.1. Youth Services SC January 27, 2015. Transportation SC January 27, 2015.
City of Lowell • 375 Merrimack Street • Lowell, MA 01852 •


6.1. C. Leahy – Req. City Mgr. outline the process in which City streets are paved, including but not limited to, bidding process and legal requirements of the vendors per Mass General Laws; in addition provide a review of oversight responsibilities and procedures of the City.

6.2. C. Rourke – Req. City Mgr. review parking issues in the Back Central Neighborhood.

6.3. C. Belanger – Req. City Mgr. explore possibility of corporate sponsorship to help defray the costs of a
new Lowell High School.

6.4. C. Milinazzo – Req. City Mgr. report on how side walk clean-up following a snowstorm is monitored and enforced.

7.1. Executive Session – Regarding matters of pending litigation public discussion of which could have a detrimental effect on the City’s position.

8. Time for meeting to stand adjourned.

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Sunday Notes January 25th 2015

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Lowell Progress Report

Included in this weeks Council Agenda is a 2014 Progress Report from the Manager focusing on the stated Priorities of Education, Economic Development and Public Safety including a look towards 2015.

Based on the stated goals of Fiscal responsibility be assured of another 2,5% – 3% property Tax increase in June and remember no matter how hard Manager Murphy tries to protect his bosses and rewrite history, many of the current City Councilors are responsible for NOT allowing moderate Tax Increases in 2012, 2013 and 2014 resulting in a needed spike in taxes in 2015 and 2016.

To use the words of Manager’s Murphy CFO in June of 2014:

The City Council’s policy to hold taxes to minimal, if any, increases in Fiscal Years 2012-2014, while maintaining service levels despite increasing operating expenses, created a Fiscal Year 2015 budget gap that needed to be bridged

The pdf. of the entire progress report is attached.

Under the Mass Ed Reform Act the School Committee has the responsibility to negotiate contracts.

D. Collective bargaining

State law: The school committee continues to be the “employer” of school employees for collective bargaining purposes. (G.L. c. 150E, [[section]] 1) The Education Reform Act made only one change concerning participants: the chief executive officer of the city or town (or his or her designee) shall participate and vote as a member of the school committee in collective bargaining. If a town does not have a town manager or administrator, the chairman of the board of selectmen (or his or her designee) shall so participate and vote. In regional school districts, the municipal chief executive officers elect one of their number to represent them, in accordance with Board of Education regulations. (G.L. c. 150E, [[section]] 1; 603 CMR 42.00)

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recommendations: The school committee chairperson may appoint the municipal official to be a member of the school committee’s negotiating subcommittee. Absent such an appointment, the statute does not guarantee that the municipal official will be at the negotiating table, unless the school committee as a whole is involved in the negotiations. Under the statute, the municipal official’s role is to participate and vote “as a member of the school committee,” whenever the school committee as a whole takes up the collective bargaining agreement. The municipal official has the same rights and responsibilities of participation as any other member of the school committee in relation to collective bargaining, including the right to be kept informed about the progress of negotiations.

Aside from the Lowell City Council in January giving the Mayor the okay to give City Manager Murphy dispensation to negotiate on behalf of the School Committee, I cannot find in the school committee minutes dating back to July 2014 a public vote appointing Manager Murphy to the negotiating team allowing him to join in or authorizing he, Supt. Franco and Atty. Hall to negotiate a full contract with the UTL and assoc. unions on the School Committee’s behalf.

The last few things I found are from October, November 2014 and December 2014 don’t state that the School Committee as a whole is giving their bargaining powers to this sub-committee, but maybe I missed it?

In fact in October it appears that someone was indeed negotiating or that they had received an offer from UTL but no where is the Manager mentioned. When did he get involved? Will anyone tell us? Was it not until January when the Council waved off a conflict? Did they wave it off because he was already involved and they didn’t want the public to know?

Oct 2014 Executive Session: 2- Consideration of the latest proposal from the United Teachers of Lowell

Nov 2014 Executive Session:
Review and Response to Collective Bargaining Proposals, Positions and Correspondence for UTL, LSAA and SEIU.

Dec 2014
2014 / 497 Special Meeting: UTL and LSAA- Review of Collective Bargaining
Positions and Litigation Updates.

No wonder the Union is frustrated not knowing who has the power to make a deal and who are just the messengers.

If the Manager, Supt. and Atty are the negotiating team, shouldn’t the public and especially the Union be informed of that?

It isn’t only the NFL and deflate gate that takes forever to resolve and people slow to answer questions.

Back in June 2014 I asked this question: Is there a Conflict of Interest ? Look at the facts. It was in regard to what many thought were votes by Councilor Belanger that he maybe should not have taken.

Should Councilor Belanger even be voting to approve members of the License Commission who oversee his establishment?

Communication-Reappoint John Descoteaux to License Commission In City Council, approved by Roll Call vote.

Communication-Appoint Terrence McCarthy to License Commission
In City Council, approved by Roll Call vote.

Communication-Appoint Kristen Hogan to License Commission In City Council, approved by Roll Call vote

Lowell Sun : The council voted 8-0 to confirm the re-appointment of John Descoteaux to the License Commission. It also voted by the same margin to confirm the new appointments of Terry McCarthy and Kristen Hogan to the License Commission. All of their terms will expire in 2020. Councilor Ed Kennedy was absent for the votes.

City Council Tuesday June 24th: Appoint- Nancy McGovern to the License Commission. Ratified by council unanimously.

Has he or anyone else asked and received an answer from the State Ethics Commission? Inquiring minds want to know!

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Big Decisions LLC HIGH SCHOOL? Councilor thinks Outside the box


Imagine the Trinity Headmaster’s Office, The Shaw Farm Cafeteria or the Pride Star Gym at Lowell High?

How about Raytheon presents Lowell High School!

Give City Councilor Corey Belanger credit, at least he is thinking outside the box. He has the following motion on the City Council Agenda this week.

C. Belanger – Req. City Mgr. explore possibility of corporate sponsorship to help defray the costs of
a new Lowell High School

Now before you laugh it off as a dumb idea, you need to realize that more and more cash strapped communities are doing this and the corporate naming isn’t limited to athletic facilities.

According to brochures it distributes to businesses in Central Pennsylvania, Market Street can negotiate “sponsorship opportunities” for almost anything with a physical presence on campus — libraries, administration buildings, cafeterias, conference rooms, guidance offices, nurse’s offices, art rooms, photo labs, band rooms and chorus spaces.

Even in MA. this is taking place:• In Newburyport, Mass., the high school offers naming rights to the principal’s office for $10,000, the auditorium for $100,000 and English classrooms for $5,000 each, according to its foundation’s website.

Imagine the possibility’s!!

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Student Population and Teacher Salary Average Information

With the newly publicized issues with the School Committee and Teacher’s Union, it seemed an appropriate time to look at Student Data and Teacher Salaries in Lowell compared to the State Average and other city’s and towns. This is all taken from easy to find State information.

Enrollment by Grade Report: Lowell Ranks as the 6th Largest School District

Boston 54,312
Springfield 25,645
Worcester 25,254
Brockton 17,186
Lynn 14,871
Lowell 14,075
Lawrence 13,889

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2014-15 Enrollment By Race/Gender Report (District)

Lowell has a pretty good mix with 30.1% Whites – 30.1% Hispanic – 29.4% Asian – 3.2% Identifying themselves as Multi-Race (non-hispanic) we have 51.9% males and 48.1 % Females

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In the 2014-15 Selected Populations Report (District)

First Language Not English 36.3%
English Language Learner 26.6%
Students With Disabilities 15.1%

2013 Graduation Rate Report (DISTRICT) for All Students

Lowell has a 75.0 % Graduation Rate – Higher than Brockton, Boston, Worcester, Springfield and many others
10.6% who don’t graduate on time stay in school and 10.5% Drop out while 1.9% get a GED

The City of Lowell ranks 53rd out of 358 School Districts in the State when it comes to the average Salary for Teachers
Teachers Ave Salary

Here’s how Lowell compares to the other Large School Districts.

Worcester – $91,504
Brockton – $82,841
Cambridge -$80,725
Boston – $79,263
Lowell -$78,298
Lynn – $69,379
Fall River -$66,138
Springfield -$58,693

Here’s how Lowell compares locally to some surrounding community’s –
Nashoba – $81,052
Andover – $80,529
Greater Lowell Tech – $71,620
Westford -$70,361
Chelmsford -$69,345
Billerica -$67,940
Tyngsboro -$67,974
Dracut -$66,937
Lawrence -$66,627

So there is some information for you to look at and think about as we hear each side state their case for what the City / School Dept. can afford and what the Teacher’s Union say’s it deserves.

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Why is UTL the ONLY Union asked to negotiate in public?

I’m sure that the Lowell School Committee members and some of their supporters will be upset with me (then again who don’t I tick off) but why is it that each and every time it come to contract negotiations with the UTL and Paul Georges the School Committee seems intimated and can’t get a contract done without first asking for public negotiations then end up in mediation or it comes down to a last minute deal?

Why is it we have, to my recollection never heard a City Manager or City Council ask for, demand or even suggest to newspaper reporters, bloggers or radio host that Police, Fire or local 1705 negotiate in public or have contract negotiations in public?

I don’t recall the Greater Lowell Tech, Chelmsford or Dracut School Committees asking for public negotiations, why is it we always hear about a few Lowell School Committee members asking for public negotiations?

The only difference I see is UTL has Paul Georges an experienced long and strong Union President. Is Paul really that intimidating?

Remind me, was Kevin Murphy’s ” employment agreement” done in public? Was Supt. Jean Franco’s? Either the Two year one she agreed to that the committee reneged on or the one year one they settled on?

So why does the Committee want public negotiations? To embarrass the Union and Paul? To play for votes? To get the court of public opinion on their side against this big bad man and the union he represents?

On Facebook in response to my post yesterday, School Committee member Kim Scott posted the following apparently in support of the Mayors comments in yesterday’s SUN.

I completely disagree with you on the non-responsiveness of the committee. Also, a 1% raise for the teachers union is over $1,000,0000 and if Mr. George’s proposed 5% a year, then it would be over $5,00,0000. I have kids in the schools and I am a taxpayer as well. I believe negotiating in public would certainly eliminate a lot of the misinformation shared with media. Supt. Franco has many strong qualities and one of them is certainly her relationship with the unions.

Again a School Committee member publicly asking for negotiations to be held in public,this time claiming it would stop media “misinformation “.

Why don’t we see this with any other city Union except the teachers and we only see this with the School Committee?

If they can’t negotiate because they’re intimidated or upset by the supposed misinformation by the press,even though we haven’t seen it from other local districts, why doesn’t the Committee hire or select a “team” or committee (Manager, Lawyer and Supt) a month before the contract expires, set the rules and guidelines for them and let them negotiate without dragging it on for six months and whine about public negotiations when no other City Union is asked to settle their contract in public.

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Lowell School Committee contradicting themselves?


Is it just me or does this Lowell School Committee seem to be contradicting themselves.

In June of 2014 they pulled a 2 year contract off the table for Supt. Franco after agreeing to it, then gave her a year contract, pretty much making it clear they had lost faith in her and were done with her.

Now in today’s paper his honor the Mayor is saying that this School Committee has so much faith and belief in Supt. Franco that she along with City Manager Murphy and Atty. Jim Hall have the power to negotiate a contract with the 1650 members of the Teacher’s Union on her way out the door.

The School Committee is in the process of hiring her replacement and yet they want her representing them in contract negotiations with the largest Union in the entire City. How does that make any sense?

The current contract expired last June and United Teachers of Lowell President Paul Georges said teachers and staff are frustrated. He claims that the union has had only one face-to-face meeting with the School Committee, which has handed the process off to different people.

Atty Hall has met with them to set up ground rules according to a couple of school committee members and we also know that Manager Murphy was only brought into these negotiations in early January after getting Special Dispensation from the City Council.

So what have they been doing the past 6 month? If the contract expired in June and they only met once Face to Face and just brought Murphy on in January does that show any indication that they feel it is important?

According to today’s SUN Mayor Rodney Elliott, who chairs the School Committee, said part of the reason negotiations are taking so long is because of provisions in UTL’s proposal.

“Part of the proposal includes requests that will cost millions and millions of dollars, of which the city does not have the money to support,” he said. “We can’t just proceed with approving a contract that includes provisions that will cost millions of dollars when the city doesn’t have that money.”

Really millions and millions? I’d believe a Million considering you are in talks with a Union which includes Teachers, Para-Professionals , Cafeteria workers, Custodians and Security personal.

Name the last time the Mayor voted for a Union contract? He certainly had no qualms giving the current Manager with no experience the same Salary as a 20+ year experienced Manager and didn’t complain when that Manager created a new 3rd Asst. Manager position without Council Approval.

He just voted in support of the largest tax increase in 6 years, yet he now claims that the city doesn’t have money for teachers? Didn’t he and the Manager go on record saying how education was a main priority?

Have they not looked at the numbers that show in 1 year Lowell went from having 8 to having 11 Level 1 and 2 Schools? Or that a district with 20 schools has No level 4 schools? Doesn’t that speak volumes for the work of the teachers and for that matter the Superintendent they are showing the door too?

This Committee under the Ed Reform Act has 3 Major functions – Hire a Supt – Bargain Contracts – Set Policy.

This Committee does seem to flux up contract negotiations with Superintendents (Bahr, Scott, Franco) and now they seem to want to pass the baton on Union negotiations, will they just let the Manager/ City Council set policy for them next??

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What else don’t / didn’t we or the Council know?


So last night we found out that the City has had a nod- nod, wink- wink deal in place for parking for promo’s since 2008. That opens up the question What else didn’t / don’t we or the Council know?

With all the talk by the previous administration about Transparency and open Gov’t, what other off the books deals are either in place still or took place and why wasn’t the Council and taxpayers informed at the time?

Were all entities including UMass Lowell offered these same type barter deals? Why didn’t the Council have to know or approve and why wasn’t it in writing? Why even let it appear to be anything but above board?

Last Night former Mayor / City Councilor and Lynch supporter Jim Milinazzo asked about the origin of the agreement in 2008 and asks how many pass cards have been issued in the past. Clearly this was news to him. $8,000 a year in Parking for Promo’s. Has the City used there time? Since it was an off the book deal, how can anyone know what the agreement was?

How many other agreements like these do or did the city have in place and if it isn’t in writing, how the heck can it be enforced one way or another?

Many people were very cynical about this deal when it was first brought forward (admittedly including myself) it sounded like it was something not commonly done or needed.

When was the last time we saw a Council vote on an item like this? I can’t recall and many people were putting the blame on Manager Murphy and his administration saying it was the good old boy network at work.

Turns out Manager Murphy appears to be the one who wanted it above board, open and transparent.

Which leaves the question open about the Lynch Administration What else don’t we or didn’t we and the Council know?

If it does nothing else, it should tighten the already quite lips of the Lynch Administration supporters and Murphy bashers. Tough to criticize this administration for transparency when we now have proof, that the previous administration wasn’t 100% transparent with us.

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