Examiner: We did not receive replies from any member of the Lowell City Government,

That’s probably the reason why no one in the city government wants to talk about the deals offered to these officers – they are a shameful embarrassment to the city and there is no justification for them. From the Bay State Examiner

If you go the the Website, here is how the Bay State Examiner describes itself:

The Bay State Examiner is an independent news organization focused primarily on issues of governmental abuse of power and lack of transparency. We investigate the power dynamics between the “public” and the “public servant” and test if our freedoms exist only on paper or if they can be exercised.

Our reporting style differs from the mainstream media in that we get directly involved with our subject matter and take a often adversarial role when dealing with public institutions when they are misbehaving. As George Orwell put it, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

We publish interviews, articles, source documents, and videos. We provide analysis of current events, new laws, court rulings, and governmental policy as it relates to Massachusetts. We plan to launch a podcast to support the published content shortly.

It sounds a lot like the Valley Patriot to me , both papers seeking answers about Government and transparency.Tommy has a lot of other things he offers in his paper but like these reporters, he goes after those who refuse to answer questions.

The Examiner ran a story about Lowell recently that doesn’t paint the Mayor, Council or Manager being very Open or running a Transparent Gov’t ! (then again, the reporter wasn’t named Moran and Teddy, Scotty or Campy weren’t tossing the softballs the questions.)

Here is an excerpt from the story:

On July 1, we contacted the Lowell City Council (including Mayor Rodney Elliott) and City Manager Kevin Murphy through the Lowell government website and asked them to provide insight about the deals they offered. We asked them about their system for determining the success of their police department, and for what, if any, offense they would fire a police officer. We also asked when the hearings would be for the two officers who rejected the deals and if they would be public.

We did not receive replies from any member of the Lowell city government, so on July 8, we traveled to Lowell to to ask our questions in person.

We first tried to speak to City Manager Kevin Murphy, who is responsible for offering the deals. Murphy sent out his assistant, Karen Moynihan, who told us that he would not meet with us and that all he would say was “no comment.”

Moynihan did confirm that Murphy had read the questions we sent in. When asked why we had to show up in person to get the “no comment,” Moynihan could not provide an answer. Lowell taxpayers are slated to pay Murphy $175,000 and Moynihan $55,710 respectively next year.

We hoped the mayor’s office might be willing to instruct the city manager to meet with us, so we asked the mayor’s assistant Celine Gettings for help. Gettings assured us that she would bring the matter to Mayor Elliott’s attention and have him read the questions we sent.

A week later, Maya returned to follow-up and Gettings explained that the mayor would not instruct Murphy to speak with us and that he would not comment on any of the questions, claiming they are related to “an ongoing legal matter.” Maya was then referred to the Law Department even though our questions all regard decisions made directly by the the city manager and other city officials, some of which were not even directly related to the Brame case.

Despite Gettings’ assurance that the Law Department would answer all our questions, City Solicitor Christine O’Connor hung up on us during a phone call yesterday after being told the call was recorded

Click here to read the full story titled: Is there such a thing as a fire-able offense at the Lowell Police Department?

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Thank You for Your Service – Lowell Police Sgt. Tom Fleming

staff_thomas_fleming

I think I may have met Tom Fleming once or maybe twice. I did know his brother – Fr. Jim and his sister from working Camp Fatima.

I’ve lived here in Lowell all my life and have seen now Sergeant Thomas Fleming work his way up from a Patrol officer to running the Lowell Police Academy. I also saw Tom when I worked for Parks and Rec. through his work with the Special Olympics. Every year for the longest time, I remember Tom donating his time to this event.

His Bio on the City Police Academy site states:

In 2004 he received a citation on the floor of the Massachusetts Senate for his volunteer work with Special Olympics Massachusetts. He takes great pride in the fact that he was inducted into the Massachusetts Special Olympics Hall of Fame 1998 for 15 years of volunteering to the organization through the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Sgt. Fleming has received five awards of merit and service while a member of the Lowell Police Department.

Before becoming Academy Director, Sgt. Fleming was assigned to the Patrol Division as Street Supervisor on the late night shift for four years. Prior to being promoted to sergeant in 1991, he worked in the patrol division on the early night shift for fourteen years. His duties covered all aspects of patrol. Prior to beginning his career in Lowell in 1982 he was a patrol officer in Nashua, NH for two years.

Sgt. Fleming has taught at the recruit level as well as the in-service and specialized training since 1985. He has not only taught in Massachusetts but also for law enforcement agencies throughout New England. His area of expertise is Health & Wellness and Stress Management. He is a certified Physical Fitness Specialist by the Institute of Aerobic Research, Dallas, TX.

The Column Blog and newspaper are reporting based on at best suspicious ,circumstantial evidence that Sgt. Fleming may have cheated on a recent exam.

Fleming who has served for 32 years has seen the constant attacks on the Lowell police by the Sun and knows about political infighting among police officers. He could have stayed and fought to clear his name but instead he gathered with his family, he has been married since 1979 and is father of five children and two grandchildren and chose to retire than fight against a stacked biased deck.

It doesn’t matter now if he did or did not cheat, he has been labeled a cheater by some other officers and the newspaper and no amount of work can undo the damage to his reputation they have caused.

He did issue a statement to the Sun:

“It is difficult for me to not legally challenge the accusations at this time in a more formal setting; I choose not to do so for many reasons. As a union president, and having spent the last 20 years training young officers to support each other, I do not believe that a formal dispute would advance the solidarity of officers who so desperately need to stick together in an increasingly dangerous occupation. Looking at the enormous amount of evidence that refutes the allegations, I am comfortable that anyone who looks at it objectively will conclude that the allegations are not true. These allegations are a desperate attempt to ruin my reputation and career by some throughout the department and by some at the highest level of the police department.”

I say Thank YOU to Sgt. Fleming and his family for the time in service to your city, the effort you made to train young men and women and for a job well done. For setting an example with your dedicated training to fitness and law enforcement and dedication to those special Olympians.

While the SUN may show you in a negative light, the many thousand of people you have helped and the hundreds you have trained to be law enforcement professionals know what you have done for them and for the citizens of Lowell.

Enjoy a well deserved retirement along with much Thanks from a grateful citizen.

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Sunday Leftovers served on Monday….with an add on

RR

Advertising for Asst. Manager position depends on what Asst. it is.

I was curious the more I look at the 6 day job posting for the 3rd Asst. City Manager position. When the Murphy Administration posted for the DPD / Asst. Manager position, was that also posted for 6 days and where were these position advertised?

If you recall when looking for a City Manager / Auditor this Council wanted to make sure the position was advertised widely.

I did a google search for Lowell Asst. City Manager Posting and while I did find one, it was for the Asst. Manager / DPD Not the ” NEW 3rd “Operations” Assistant Manager position.

I found it here:
APA – Massachusetts Chapter » Jobs » Assistant City Manager/Department of Planning and Development Director – City of Lowell

It seems that position was posted in multiple places for a lengthy time where the Operations Asst. is a 6 day..sshh don’t let people know posting.

Interesting that DPD / Asst. Manager position was posted for 22 days including weekends and Operations only required 6 days. Here are the 2 Posted positions:

City of Lowell
Job Posting
Please Post: May 2, 2014
Deadline: May 23, 2014
Department of Planning and Development Assistant City Manager/
Department of Planning and Development Director salary range: $100,323.60 to $117,871.52

City of Lowell
Job Description Please Post: July 15, 2014 Deadline: July 20, 2014 City Manager’s Office Assistant City Manager $87,309.68 (min) to $102,552.35(max);

Another Business maybe 2 Closing
It is sad to hear that due to the illness of owner Dave Robinson, Ray Robinson’s Sandwich Shoppe is closing at the end of the month. Rumors have another popular (or it was for a while) downtown Restaurant getting ready to close in the next month if not sooner.

Even Councilor Belanger is closing Majors at the end of July and plans to try an Irish concept there because this present concept must not be successful or why change it? (hmm isn’t their a REAL Irish Bar named the Old Court already in the Downtown and doing well, run by real Irishmen!)

NOT Customer / Voter / Taxpayer Friendly
The City Council may have pressured the School Dept. to move their Administration Offices back into the downtown to help the local businesses (like the one a city council owns that serves lunch). It certainly wasn’t a well thought out move for parents / voters / taxpayers who have to deal with not only having to pay to park to deal with the Parent Information Center. It is costing the taxpayers millions over the past almost 20 years.

Tell a mom/ dad/caregiver with a couple small children who has to park at the John or Market St. Garage or find a meter and those friendly kiosk how much more important the downtown business people are than they are.

The School Dept from 2004 – 2009 use to pay $656,900 annually in rent for 50,000 square feet of the 99,000-square-foot Bon Marche building at 155 Merrimack St. at that time they also paid $130,000 annual lease on the Family Literacy Center on Palmer Street.

The School Dept. Originally moved there in 1996 for $480,000 a year. The cost of the lease increased dramatically when the city increased parking rates from $20 to $52 per month in 2004.(BTW: Parking for those who work there is Free, taxpayers who need to go there to register their children must pay).

I’m No math whiz but since 1996 – 2009 when the School Dept. moved to the Rogers School, the City of Lowell and it’s taxpayers have spend around $7,774,500.00 on RENT! With another Million roughly being spent on this new lease for the 3 years.

BTW Dracut is building a new Town Hall for $9.3 Million Dollars. Wouldn’t it have been a lot better and will it not make more sense for taxpayers, if Lowell built a PERMANENT School Administration Building that offered parking on City owned property?

Isn’t what the city is doing just subsidizing private businesses with taxpayers dollars? How about building a permanent Administration building has part of the Jam Plan??

Do as we say NOT has we DO!

Seems to be a motto of the City Council or at least a few councilors. In today’s paper there is an article on buildings marked with a X to warn firefighters of danger.

If ‘X’ marks the spot, Lowell firefighters beware

There is a picture and paragraph about 43 Market St included in the story which says, The property is on the list because it is “poorly secured” and the fire-protection equipment is inoperable, according to task-force records.Owners of nearby businesses, including City Councilor Corey Belanger of Major’s Pub, and Andy Jacobson of Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus, said they’d like the city to take more aggressive enforcement action to spur redevelopment of the long-blighted 43 Market St.

IF

There is this quote from City Councilor Belanger saying “We need stronger measures in place to come down on negligent landlords such as this so this does not happen,” Belanger said. “This is an absolute disgrace.”

There is also this Picture of a CITY OWNED BUILDING ON HAMPSHIRE ST. IN CENTRALVILLE OWNED BY…The City of Lowell:

IF with the caption:

The building at 16 Hampshire St., bears a red “X,” meaning firefighters are warned not to go into if there is a fire because of the danger they present. SUN/Julia Malakie

Maybe because this isn’t in the Downtown, Councilor Belanger doesn’t A) Know about it or B) Care about it. Tearing down or cleaning up this City owned site won’t help his personal business like cleaning up 43 Market St. might!

Yep he’s for all of Lowell (if all is confined to the downtown) how about getting the City to clean up before preaching at others Councilor?

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Sunday Notes July 20th 2014

lots-of-questions-300x249

Lots of Questions.…..Not many answers so far.

I’m referring to the possible “restructuring” of the City Manager’s Office. Is there one?

So far nothing is on the City Council Agenda and the Manager hasn’t responded or publicly shared a plan but let’s look at we know and what we don’t know.

We do know that the City Budget for 2015 was approved June 16th that saw the Manager’s Office listed with an Assistant to the City Manager -Director of Neighborhood Sevices – CFO- Data Analysis-Executive Admin. Asst and Admin. asst positions listed and funded.

We know that 3 weeks later on July 7th the Sun informed us that Mike McGovern a longtime political operative and Greater Lowell Tech’s coordinator of school information/school foundation resigned from the Tech to go to work for the Murphy Administrative according to Greater Lowell Superintendent Roger Bourgeois.

We know that on July 9th Manager Murphy named Conor Baldwin as the city’s new chief financial officer and appointed Diane Tradd as the assistant city manager/director of the Department of Planning and Development and we know that will assume their new roles beginning tomorrow July 21 (but we don’t know at what salary.)

What we also know is in the budget just approved Ralph Snow is the DPW Commissioner and Assistant City Manager. With the announcement of Diane Tradd that would seem to fill the 2 Asst. Manager positions.

What we don’t know is – when McGovern ends his time at the Tech, when he starts working for the city or what position he will take with the Murphy Administration.

We don’t know why the City Manager has a posted job opening for an Assistant City Manager at a salary of $87,309.68 (min) to $102,552.35(max); Per City Ordinance.

Is Ralph Snow leaving or getting stripped of the title? Is Henri Marchand getting reassigned? Is Mike Demaris retiring and Henri getting slid to that position?

According to today’s Column Blog which for the first time in a week mentions anything about a posting for the job Manager Murphy told The Column the position is not new, but a new title for the “assistant to the city manager” position held by Henri Marchand.

So the Manager is hiring a 3rd Asst. City Manager or changing a job title just 3 – 4 weeks after presenting a budget that included a 3.5% tax increase with a notation that The FY15 Budget submission for the Office of the City Manager represents an overall decrease of $322,783 (-6.2%) over the FY14 approved budget. Due to staffing changes in the office, salaries were decreased by $22,853. One administrative position in the Manager’s Office has been eliminated from the FY15 budget, which was newly added in FY14.

What we don’t know is why the Manager has nothing on the City Council Agenda this week about any type of reorganization and why he is advertising a position that 3 weeks ago wasn’t in the presented budget. Why is the position for the Asst. City Manager only worth advertising for 6 days? from July 15th – July 20th. That is only 4 work days and 2 weekend days. Does that give the general public a fair chance to apply or is it done to keep away people and discourage them from applying?

What we do know is after Tuesday because of the Summer Schedule, the City Council doesn’t meet again until August 12th, 3 weeks away.

We don’t know why there is such a delay in explaining to the public and presumably the Council what is going on.

Why advertise for a position that presently doesn’t exist? Is someone retiring or being reassigned or demoted? Is is fair to Henri Marchand, Ralph Snow, Mike Demaris and Mike McGovern to let people speculate about their jobs?

Does the Council need to approve or at least be notified of a change? I recall the former Manager had to get approval to re-instate the Asst. to the Manager position after the Council who didn’t like the guy who had the job, eliminated the funding since they could not fire him themselves.

How many of the current City Councilors are aware about what changes are being planned and why doesn’t the public know? Especially when some political buzz words such has TRANSPARENCY AND OPEN GOVERNMENT are tossed around regularly by the Mayor and a certain weekday radio talk show host?

I expected a smoother, well orchestrated, professional roll-out of a new City Administration Team. This seems not well thought out or rolled out and allows for too much speculation.

What happened to the Fiscal Watchdog who pledged Transparency and stated he wasn’t a rubber stamp?

2013 Re-Election article in the Lowell SUN:(Bold Mine)

I do my homework, am prepared for meetings, and I’m not a rubber stamp,” said Elliott. “That’s how I’m going to proceed with my ninth term, if reelected, to continue to make our city government more open and more transparent, reminding everyone our city manager works for us, not the other way around.

This is what we are used to the past few years, a City Councilor who challenges the administration, a self-proclaimed, self-promoting Fiscal Watchdog.

Remember this Budget meeting stances by Councilor Elliott?

The Sun 1/5/11
During budget deliberations, Elliott suggested an across-the-board cut of 2.5 percent to every line item
“At least I walk the walk,” Elliott said. “When I campaign, when I say we need to reduce taxes and cut spending, that is what I do. Just speak the truth

Yet in 2014 Elliott called for only a $25,000 cut in a $334 Million Dollar Budget that Included the largest one time Tax Hike in the past 7 years.

Do you recall this tirade against the former CFO? Councilor wants ethics probe into treasurer hiring

Yet he himself hires his friend of over 30 years who he worked with for former Sen. Phil Shea.

During the same situation involving the Treasurer , The Sun ran a story that included this: Elliott said the names and resumes of candidates considered finalists could be released after the new treasurer is hired to ensure public confidence in the hiring process.

After City Manager Murphy named a full time CFO and DPD Director , the Sun story stated: Baldwin and Tradd were the best of five candidates interviewed for each position, said Murphy, who became city manager in mid-April.

So why isn’t Mayor Elliot now demanding the names and resumes of candidates considered finalists who were also interviewed to ensure public confidence in the hiring process?

Why isn’t he or any other City Councilor asking publicly about a Job Posting for a 3rd Asst. City Manager?

How come Transparency goes out the window all of a sudden for the Mayor? Maybe it changes when the City Manager says about you “It’s like my little brother got elected Mayor”

I know we are in a different time in Lowell Politics. Instead of attacking the City Manager and his administration for anything and everything, the Sun for a change is for the most part ignoring this administration. They are not questioning a post for a 3rd Asst. even after the Manager tells them the position is not new, but a new title for the “assistant to the city manager” position. They also aren’t asking why certain positions get posted for over 20 days and others for only 6, or are they no longer paying attention? They don’t seem to care at all what this administration is or isn’t doing. (Preoccupied with an impending sale to a local group perhaps?)

Could it be they are in so tight with a couple councilors and this Manager that we are seeing coverage like we saw in the days of John Cox (Friend of Campy). If Bernie Lynch tried hiring a 3rd Asst, without Council approval headlines and negative ninny’s led by JC and RE and company would be ranting on and on. Now no one says boo.

Who knows maybe its better for the public to not know or care and for Councilors to either be not informed or play dumb and claim they don’t know. Maybe the Manager has told them but he doesn’t feel he has to inform the public.

Why not inform the public? Isn’t that being transparent and providing open Gov’t?

Maybe the SUN is so busy trying to stay alive and trying to be sold that they don’t care about covering the politics of government anymore, maybe they are just giving the new Manager a free ride after spending so much of the past 3 years kicking the crap out of the Lynch Administration and the Manager himself..time will tell.

Speaking of posted positions, it was pointed out to me that the City of Lowell seems to not have much rhyme or reason when it comes to posting open City positions. For example looking at some job postings this past week on the City website:

Assistant City Solicitor Position is Posted July 2 – July 23rd (22 days including weekends and 1 Holiday)
Energy Manager Pos. is advertised from July 9th – July 18th (10 days, including weekends)
The Director of Economic Development is Posted July 2nd – July 16th (15 days including weekends and 1 Holiday)
The Asst. Manager Position only posted for 6 (including 2 weekend days)

Maybe the Council should direct the Manager to have the HR Dept. settle on 10 or 14 working days to post all jobs in the City to ensure things don’t look predetermined and everyone has the same opportunity to apply for any position.

There is a story in today’s SUN Style Section titled: Charging the phone is a challenge – All about Warren Shaw’s challenge with his new phone that we mentioned yesterday (or maybe not but read it yourself to find out)

RIP Jim Gardner – Maverick , Rockford and Mariette Hartley’s partner in some clever Polaroid commercials. He was one of the best character’s on Television.

JG

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Perusing the City Ordinances….

cityseal

City Ordinances which are available on the City Web site are generally not well know by most of the citizens and I’m sure at least a few of the City Elected officials.

When speculation started earlier this week that the City Manager was doing a reorganization of his office less than 1 month after presenting the City Budget to the Council, I was interested to see what the Ordinances say about the Asst. City Manager position.

(I’m also interested that the newspaper hasn’t brought up this issue and neither has the local morning radio guy except to once again knock anyone who dares question anything against FOT (Friends of Teddy) but I digress.)

I could only find these 2 items relating to the position of Asst. City Manager listed:

Under Neighborhood Services:

Under the authority of the MGL c. 43, § 5, there is hereby established the Department of Neighborhood Services under the jurisdiction of the City Manager in conformity with Plan E, Form of Government. Upon passage of this article the Division of Neighborhood Services in the Planning and Development Division of the City Manager’s office is abolished.

The Assistant City Manager (Operations), who also holds the position of Director of Neighborhood Services, shall be the head of the Department of Neighborhood Services.

And Dept. of Planning and Development

The Department shall be headed by the Assistant City Manager/Director of Planning and Development who shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the City Manager.

In order to allow for the necessary flexibility to permit the Department of Planning and Development to reflect ongoing current organizational responsibilities and to have staff titles reflect ongoing current staff functions, the City Manager shall have the authority to change staff titles and the Table of Organization in said Department. It is further understood that any future changes of staff titles and/or the Table of Organization, as authorized, shall not result in any added or deleted positions without prior approval by ordinance by the City Council. The Table of Organization appears as “Attachment A” and incorporated into this Ordinance.

Interestingly it appears the Assistant TO the Manager under Manager Lynch was the person who oversaw Neighborhood Services while the Ordinance calls for the Asst. Manager of Operation which existed under past Manager but when TJ McCarthy was reassigned to DPW by Manager Lynch, he brought that title with him and it was then given to present Commish Ralph Snow.

A couple other Ordinances caught my eye because discussions about them or related to them have come up from time to time.

With all the talk about Lawsuits involving the City and Councilors not being informed, there is under the City Solicitor section item #3 the following:

He shall annually, in the month of February, make a report to the City Council of the business of his office during the year, stating the suits pending in favor of or against the City at the time of his report, with a brief description of each, and such other information as in his opinion the interests of the City may require.

So why isn’t and hasn’t that been done annually?

The subject of a residency requirement pops up from time to time and interestingly enough, while not mandating living in the City, there is a requirement to live in the State.

A) All officers and employees of the City now in the employ of or hereafter to be employed by the City are hereby required as a condition of the continued employment to have their place of domicile within the commonwealth and to be bona fide residents therein, except as otherwise provided by this article. A bona fide resident, for the purpose of this section, is a person having a permanent domicile within the commonwealth and one which has not been adopted with the intention of again taking up or claiming a previous residence acquired outside of the commonwealth.

B. All officers and employees hereinafter employed by the City shall become bona fide residents of the commonwealth within six months from the dates of their appointment or employment by the City.

C. All officers and employees, once their residence in the commonwealth is established, shall be required to maintain such residence during their employment. Failure to do so shall be determined to be a voluntary termination of employment.

The City Manager or any Councilor could bring in a motion to enforce this at anytime. How many of our employee’s which would include teachers and Dept. Heads live in New Hampshire? Maine? Rhode Island?

Those were just a few items after a relatively quick glance (Yeah I know, I need to get another hobby this is what I do on an off day) but they are available for the public and elected officials to look at and use for motions and reference,

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Qualified, Talented People with Educators in Family, need not Apply!

That is the message the Lowell School Committee apparently wants to convey to anyone who is family and works in the Lowell School Dept.

School Committee member Kim Scott who is no fan of Deputy Supt. Jay Lang drafted a motion in 2013 to develop this anti-family motion.

Jays wife who meets all the posted qualifications for the job of assistant principal was appointed to that position. Before that she worked in the school system as a teacher. Her crime is being married to Jay. (God Bless her for that). Jill Lang, who is by birth Jay’s sister and herself a longtime worker in the School Dept. was selected by Brian Martin, LHS Headmaster to be the Director of the Freshman Academy at the high school.

The horror, two well qualified women who grew up and work here in the city aren’t supposed to be able to advance their careers because of who their spouse or brother is? Sounds like another form of discrimination or is it a liberal war on woman?

Correct me if I am wrong but looking at the Organization chart, Jay Lang has NO /ZERO direct supervision over either of these positions.

I can understand making a motion that would state that a Supervisor (Principle , Dept. Head – Asst. Supt – Supt) cannot directly hire and supervise an immediate relative.

To try to extend that by playing the what if game – “If the superintendent was out of district or incapacitated, Jay Lang, as deputy superintendent would be the supervisor of his wife and sister. I just think that’s wrong.” is wrong!

I’m disappointed a school committee member is actually quoted stating “nepotism is rampant” in the School Department, NO family members never follow in the footsteps of their parents. Have you met Brian Martin?

So talented people from Lowell and elsewhere who are 2nd generation or husband/wife , brother sister need not apply? I can name a ton of solid teachers/ administrators that have done a good job for the Lowell School System – Mike Crowley and his son Mike / Kay-Roger-Brian Martin / Bill & Pat Kealy / Scott Davis and his wife etc etc.

Is this School Committee really telling us that if a person meets all the qualifications for a posted position, if they are related to someone in Administration or a Principle in another School , then SCREW we don’t want you advancing / improving the educational system here in Lowell?

What are we talking about maybe 16 Administrators? Really this is the most pressing item that School Committee members think needs addressing?

The Supt. released a statement in the SUN when this ridiculous motion was first discussed: quoting a portion of state law Chapter 71, section 67:

“Superintendents of schools; penalty for accepting fees for obtaining positions; employment of immediate family of certain persons prohibited,” reads in part, that a school district is prohibited from assigning “a member of the immediate family of the principal as an employee at the principal’s school, unless written notice is given to the school committee of the proposal to employ or assign such a person at least two weeks in advance of such person’s employment or assignment.”

Franco said school employees often have familial ties. She added: “One day I’m criticized for hiring Lowell people, and the next day I’m slapped on the head for hiring from the outside. But this isn’t something that started in 2011 (when Franco was hired). There is a long history here.”

The City Legal team advises the Board that:

There are currently three variations of policies, which address the hiring of family members. Approximately 60 communities in Massachusetts currently have adopted some policy. Of those, the vast majority (44) have formally adopted the approach which, pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, requires two weeks’ notice to the public before a school district hires a member of the immediate family of a superintendent, central office administrator, or school committee member. MGL ch. 71, §67. “Immediate family” in this context means the person’s spouse, parents, children, brothers and sisters. MOL ch. 268A, §1(e).

At least 44 Massachusetts school districts have policies that reflect this state law minimum.

In order to avoid the appearance of any possible conflict, it is the policy of the School Committee that when an immediate family member, as defined in the Conflict of Interest statute, of a School Committee member or district administrator is to be hired into or promoted within the School District, the Superintendent shall file public notice with the School Committee and the Town or District Clerk at least two weeks prior to executing the hiring in accordance with the law.”

Will they listen or will they try to do what only 16 communities have and be more restrictive?

You want to discourage and bar qualified candidates from applying to improve the Lowell School System because of a personality conflict draped in Political Correctness?

Before we create more rules that discourage people from working for a School Committee that can’t properly negotiate a contract with a Supt., shouldn’t we allow REAL Educators to do their jobs and follow their suggestions and that of our Legal dept.?

I’d trust them more than a bunch of people who think they are Horace Mann because they were elected to the School Committee. (H/T to my friend the late Tom Burns who used to opine that).

Does the The Lowell School Committee really want to tell the citizens that although Jane X is the most qualified Candidate to better the Lowell School System and help us in educating our children, they have to go to Chelmsford or Dracut because their Husband / Wife or Sister / Brother is already doing that for Lowell and we can’t have more than one family member bettering the education of the students in this city!

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Manager Murphy Restructuring ?

H/T to Jack Mitchell at Lowell Live Feed for inspiring this post based on his keen observation skills!

During the recently passed City Budget, there was no discussion of a new Asst. City Manager position.

Lowell currently has two Assistant Managers, DPW boss Ralph Snow, P.E. Commissioner and Assistant City Manager and last week Manager Murphy named Diane Tradd as the Assistant City Manager/director of the Department of Planning and Development.

So how come listed on the City Of Lowell Website today there is a posting for an Assistant City Manager?

Based strictly on observation, I would say we are witnessing the restructuring of the Manager’s Office and top staff and we may see jobs combined or titles/salaries changed.

The Manager has a set budget, I would assume he has the right to create a structure he will be comfortable with surrounding himself with both knowledgable and trusted staff. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out,

Will Lowell have 3 Assistant City Manager’s? Will one of the present Asst. be relieved of the title? Might we see the position of Asst. TO the Manager be abolished with the new Asst. Manager position being advertised? Is their another retirement or exit about to take place?

It appears we will have to wait until at least next week to find out and to find out the reaction from City Councilors.

Normally a re-structuring gets vetted through the council or the council is notified in advanced. In their short history this council has shown that when the Manager informs them of something in advance, the SUN or Teddy P know almost has quickly.

It is interesting to note that so far the SUN and the Morning show have not mentioned any restructuring.

How does this Council feel about surprises?

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