City Council Agenda Items for April 21st 2015

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A few things that caught my eye in a relatively motionless but very full City Council Agenda.

A) The Manager wants to add 4 Police Officer’s to next’s year’s budget but needs the Council to okay ahead of time.

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B) The Manager also has the Home Rule Petition to eliminate the Fire Chief from Civil Service – Vote-Auth Filing Special Legislation re: Appt of a non-civil service Fire Chief in the City of Lowell

It will be interesting to see if any Fire Union members or Superior Officer’s speak either for or against this item. If the Union has concerns, especially in an Election year, will the Council delay?

C) The Public Hearing for the Veterans Ordinance is on the Agenda for a Public Hearing – Ordinance-Establish Veterans’Commission

Will concerned Veteran’s speak against some of the aspects? Will others be there in support? Does the fact that the VFW played nice ion the Tanner St. realignment come into play? (Some think it does) In a City of over 100,000 people, why the need to allow a Non-Lowell Veteran membership on the board (besides political reasons?)

D) The Capital Budget Plan is on the Agenda for a Public hearing -Loan Order and Transfer-Various Capital Improvements ($9,386,005) – Will anyone express their concern of $500,000 for the Shot-Spotter System which includes LIMITED Video?

E) The 1705 Union President isn’t backing down from this Manager / Administration and the ever growing Anti-Union reputation this Administration is getting (rightly or wrongly depends on your viewpoint) Personally I think this Administration is doing their best to be creative with personal and get the most use out of them while also trying to limit (in the teacher’s union case) the growing cost of salary and benefits.

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F) The City is collecting more Permit Fee’s due to the due diligence of the Development Service Dept. following up on Commercial Renovations. Seem’s Eric Slagle and company are doing a great service for the city.

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G) With the High School renovation / New LHS discussions really in its infancy, Councilor Bill Samaras who has the ONLY motion on this week’s Agenda, seem’s to be trying to push one suggested location off the table. It will be interesting to see if Councilor Belanger who wanted a 4 season Park at the South Common before he flipped-flopped and wanted a new High School there has to say on this motion.

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Running 26 miles for Love -Tara Spellissy Bedard

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I want to introduce you to a remarkable, kind, loving, talented and overall amazing young women named Tara Spellissy Bedard.

Tara is a proud daughter (Bernie and Donna), loving wife (to Brian Bedard) , a doting Mom, a SUPER Lowell School teacher who loves her job and her students and she is also an amazing photographer! Tara’s smile can light up a room and she has a heart of gold.

Like Many of us Tara has seen CANCER strike her family, often and fatally. Her Mom is a Cancer survivor so is her Aunt Judy Regan and she lost her aunt / godmother, my friend Shirley Cyr to Cancer.

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Tara knows the helpless feeling you have watching people fight and has seen the CLARK WOMEN (Donna, Judy and Shirl’s) fighting spirit. That inspired this very busy women to take the time to train and run the Boston Marathon for all the people is her life who have fought this truly horrible disease. She is also a much better writer than I could ever imagine being and has chronicled her challenges in training in a blog – The Road to Boston

So has Monday approaches, keep her in your thoughts and prayers has she runs for the love of family and against the disease of Cancer.

I ask you if you could, please donate to Tara’s run click on this link and help support Tara in her love run to help in the fight against this horrible disease.

I’ve told you how amazing this young women is and you can read about why she runs,in her own words:

I got accepted to run Boston for Dana Farber in November. In October I completed my first Half Marathon and when I finished I knew I had to run Boston. But not just run Boston, I had to run Boston for Dana Farber. For Shirley Clark Cyr for Donna Spellissy for Judi Clark Regan. 3 beautiful sisters. 3 different cancers. And this run has become so much more for so many more.

There are so many people in my life fighting this battle or who have lost their battle. I hate cancer. I’ve spent the past 4 months of Friday nights gearing up for my long run Saturdays (Sometimes Sundays) I’ve spent the last 4 months overanalyzing every decision I make.

Bedtimes, water intake, food, short runs, long runs, pain management, hours of sleep, the list goes on. It’s been an amazing journey with so many memories, tears shed, new friends made and moments shared. Tomorrow officially, marks the final run before the big day with this amazing team and this beautiful volunteer who lost so much but gives us everything. She gives us her time, her inspiration, her strength, her love, her laughs, her hugs and her ability to just keep going. It’s been the coldest, harshest, craziest winter in a long time. We’ve run in sleet, snow, hail, rain, blizzard like conditions, below freezing temps and for the entire 4 months, she’s stood in all of this with a crew of others, braving the brutal New England weather because she loves this team. I could not do this without you. Sandra Cohan Dubuc. Our last drive in tomorrow! I promise to keep the questions to a minimum and the tears at bay. #BostonStrong. #MattyStrong

I can’t tell you how thankful I will be at Mile 25 on 4.20.15 — with Shirley Clark Cyr, Donna Spellissy, Sandra Cohan Dubuc and Judi Clark Regan.

Runner

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Meet the Supt Candidates Part 2- Dr Cash and F Fuentes

GN: A quick Google search of two other candidates. Current Deputy Supt. Jay Lang is also a finalist

Dr Kriner Cash – former Memphis School Supt. resigned in 2013

He has also served as superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools in Massachusetts, as a dean, director and professor at Howard University’s School of Education, and as department chair, director and professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

As with any leadership position, the job of superintendent comes with challenges and controversies, as well as fans and foes. Dr. Cash saw plenty of these things during his time in Memphis.

Some might say Dr. Cash took over an impossible situation when he came to Memphis five years ago. MCS was a school district with “performance problems” and budget issues. Dr. Cash announced he would step down from the superintendent post earlier this month, saying there should be only “one-leader” during the school merger between Memphis City and Shelby County Schools.

Dr. Cash was hired in 2008. He soon-after outlined his 100-day plan to improve student achievement. However, later that year, he cut more than 100 teachers.

In 2009, under Dr. Cash’s leadership, MCS was awarded a $90 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Cash was also featured that same year in TIME magazine for his vision to open a residential school that would house homeless students. That same year, he also opened the first school-based health clinic at Northside High.

In 2010, Memphis City Schools surrendered its charter, putting Dr. Cash’s future in doubt.

In July of 2011, Dr. Cash and the School Board threatened to delay the first day of school because the city owed the district money. The city later paid MCS $3 million, so school could start.

In 2012, two of Dr. Cash’s employees came under fire. In February, Deputy Superintendent Irving Hamer resigned after making inappropriate comments to a woman at Dr. Cash’s house. In September of that same year, one of Dr. Cash’s drivers was investigated for texting a teenager. However, the case was later dismissed.

In June of 2012, the Unified School Board voted it would not renew Dr. Cash’s contract. On Jan. 11, 2013, Dr. Cash resigned from his post as superintendent. He will continue to be paid until July 31.

Ferdinand (Freddy) Fuentes Executive Director, Educational Operatio… for Boston Public Schools He was also a finalist in the last Lowell Supt search and was president of Re-Imagine Associates in Providence and a former assistant superintendent in New Bedford;

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Meet the Supt. Candidates Part 1 – Dr Khelfaoui and Dr Pope (WOW)

Here is a quick Google search of 2 Supt Canidates.

1) Dr Salah Khelfaoui has been the superintendent of Winchendon Public Schools since 2012. Before that, he was the assistant superintendent for Arlington Public Schools in Virginia starting in 2010. Other employment includes working as the director of information systems for school districts in Massachusetts, special assistant to the vice president of Zayed University in Dubai, and managing director of the Innovative Center for Excellence in Dubai.
The majority of his teaching experience was as an associate professor in the school of business at Manhattan College in New York from 1990 to 2000.
Khelfaoui earned his bachelor’s in business and finances from the University of Algiers in Algeria in 1977. In 1979 he received his master’s in management science from the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. Later, he earned his Ph.D. in industrial engineering/operations research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1986.

He is also presently a finalist in NH for Unit 29 which covers the Chesterfield, Harrisville, Keene, Marlow, Marlborough, Nelson and Westmoreland school districts. The new leader of the unit will succeed Superintendent Wayne E. Woolridge, who will retire at the end of the school year.

2) Dr Anthony Pope Dr. Anthony Pope, an educational consultant and former superintendent of Marlborough Public Schools;

During his time in Marl­borough, Pope drafted a long-range strategic plan, updated curriculum, developed STEM education, and executed a major realignment of grades.

He also has some well-documented performance failures in Marlborough During is second and final year on the job, Pope stood accused of grossly unprofessional behavior and conduct, unjust termination of staff, provoking a conflict with students, dishonesty and insubordination with the School Committee, poor handling of the budget, and negligence in his oversight of an important high school accreditation report.

In fact, the former superintendent was directly responsible for the district’s failure to file a mandated high school accreditation report and he was insubordinate when questioned about this matter by the School Committee. “This was a poor example and a breakdown of leadership with Dr. Pope at the helm,” commented Katherine Hennessy during a meeting last May. “I am dumbfounded that we as a School Committee needed to call a special meeting to get some motion going.”

Perhaps the most well-known act of misconduct by Pope was an alarming January 2012 confrontation. During a visit to the high school, numerous witnesses reported that Pope instigated a conflict with students in an attempt to silence their support of a popular administrator, Adam Bakr, who the superintendent was attempting to terminate. “I’m not going to hurt (the students), I’m just going to scare them,” said Pope, according to witness testimony. “If you scare three of them, you scare all of them,” he added.

The School Committee has agreed to pay former Superintendent Anthony Pope nearly $100,000, according to a separation agreement released Friday.

The city will pay Pope $99,078.92, the agreement states, in exchange for the parties agreeing not to sue each other and for Pope acknowledging that the city would not approve any application for unemployment.

The document states that the agreement “is being executed by all parties as a means of resolving any and all potential claims that have arisen or may arise of out Dr. Pope’s employment.”

The document, which appears to have been written by the School Committee, twice makes reference to a medical condition “asserted” by Pope’s doctor in a June 19 letter.

Since 1998, Pope has held ten jobs, most for about a year or less.” The MSJ article further reports that “While the details about his transition from earlier jobs is unknown, he left under a cloud of controversy from both of his two most recent jobs, as principal of W

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NOTICE TO BUSINESSES IN ALL OF LOWELL – CHECK AND APPEAL YOUR TAXES! (HomeOwners also)

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We’ve heard the Manager discuss how much property evaluations have gone up and how Economic Development is a cornerstone of his Administration.

It’s to bad that at least 4 of his Assessors findings that we now are aware of, were so far out of whack that the city LOST these appeals and it’s a message for all local business and homeowners.

WATCH YOUR BILL AND CHALLENGE THE CITY!!!

These three Downtown Business Owners in the FISKE Building have a true horror story to share – Each bought their business loft space in the past few years .

One for $30,000 another for $33,000 and a third for $58,000 yet were assessed by this Administration at a HUGE Increase!

$33,000 bought in 2013 was assessed at $121,000

$30,000 also bought in 2013 was assessed for $101,000

$58,000 bought in 2013 was assessed for $137,000

After they each filed a Tax Abatement last JULY – they were adjusted SUBSTANTIALLY DOWN!

$121,000 went to $45,000 $101,000 went to $40,000 and the $137,000 went to $58,000

That’s $216,000 LESS VALUE than the City claimed. @ $32.49/1,000 it is $7,011.36 more the city tried to charge these 3 business owners than what the true value of these businesses were. (NOT VERY BUSINESS FRIENDLY IS IT?)

I’d like any Councilor to put in a motion for next week’s meeting not only asking HOW someone can be so FAR OFF in judging Value, but how many Tax ABATEMENTS were filed in the city and how many were granted and what is the estimated LOSS in projected revenue? Maybe many people chose NOT to fight, this year but with this now public, you can bet more will and apparently should next year!

However this SEE No Evil – Hear No Evil – Speak No Evil Council will let this Manager walk and no one will say boo!

At Least the Manager usually gets 3 out of 4!!

At Least the Manager usually gets 3 out of 4!!

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BUY the DAM / BOOT ? NOT a Possibility!!

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Look I understand that some people for whatever reason LOVE plywood and hate the idea that a bladder DAM will better control the water…but to actually float an idea that it would somehow be a logical step or even a fiscally responsible idea to buy the thing from ENEL or my real favorite part – TAKE IT BY EMINENT DOMAIN is just dumb dumb dumb.

Here are 2 Main points that so far I haven’t seen addressed:

A) The “City” would have to pay the value of the rest of the power sales agreement that currently exists with Commonwealth Electric (I think they run until 2025), PLUS pay any potential future power sales contract value, PLUS pay for the cost of the equipment and real estate. The sale would also require FERC approval since the plant is licensed via FERC.

No way can the City, State or even a private party (Let’s get BAIN to buy it- hello Deval, can you help us out?) ever afford the multi-millions of dollars that would entail, and no way FERC will allow transfer of the license to unqualified parties.

B) Since Boott Hydropower operates under a Federal FERC license, they (Boott)hold FEDERAL Eminent Domain rights. Neither the City nor State has any control over this. As a matter of fact, the eminent domain powers have been used in the past by Federal licensees to take surrounding lands at licensed dams using federal eminent domain powers.

So write all the letters you want and get some people riled up and believing that this could happen but just as I stated that the Bladder Dam was inevitable so to is the fact that ENEL is here to stay.

BUY the Hydro

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Warren Shaw responds to Sunday Notes

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My Saturday morning partner and and I don’t always agree (despite what some think) but since he is a respected Dracut Elder Statesman I thought his response deserved to be shared.

Gerry- so they don’t think we indulge in group think… I want to disagree with your take on the Dracut situation.

I think Tami is doing the right thing as a member of the board .People are more upset with this situation than anything in my memory and they want something done.

I don’t for a second think anyone at Cathy’s property would do anything intentional to hurt animals, but clearly proper animal care was not practiced and it was observed by passers by. The animal control officer did her job and attempted to resolve the matter …It wasn’t

The folks that are concerned about a rush to judgement should read the report…

The BOS did not ask for this , but they are the leaders of the community and can’t run from this.

This situation has the potential to make the town politically chaotic if it isn’t handled correctly and that benefits no one – It needs to be dealt with soon
We haven’t even heard “I’m sorry” yet

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