In Memory of Former Greater Lowell Tech Superintendent William Collins,

Just heard the sad news that former Greater Lowell Tech School Supt. Bill Collins passed away. Mr. Collins was a long time educator (28 years I believe) and did a great job running the Tech .

Back when I worked at the School 24 year ago, he was Superintendent and Mr. Collins was very kind to me. Condolences to his daughter Eileen, son Bill and all his family and many friends.

Calling Hours will be Thursday July 31st 3:00 -8:00 O’Donnell Funeral Home
276 Pawtucket Street, Lowell, MA

BC

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Sunday Notes July 27th 2014

That was Then….This is NOW! or Everything Old is New Again

Murph

Former Sen. Phil Shea can stop by City Hall and see a lot of his former staff – Mayor Elliott, Manager Murphy, DPD Deputy Kevin Coughlin…..Well there is a ” Friends of Kevin Network and we are apparently seeing it in action.(Not exactly the same one)

Personally I think the Manager has done a terrible job rolling out his team, he hasn’t released salaries when making these appointments (Today’s SUN says Coughlin/McGovern will both make $87,000) and hasn’t said what is happening to Henri Marchand and hasn’t explained what the exact responsibilities McGovern/Coughlin have. It is clear he wanted both Mike McGovern and Kevin Coughlin on his team.

In Today’s Sun Column,Murphy admits he did not actively search for any others to fill those two roles, as both positions were posted for a short time period and Murphy did not conduct any interviews. Murphy said it would have been “a charade” to conduct interviews, but he posted the positions to comply with city requirements. The Sun says about Coughlin the new DPD Deputy “There is not much urban planning and development experience there.”

The bottom line is, this is HIS team and now we have to give him/them some time and see what they can accomplish. Connor Baldwin is very talented, Mike McGovern is a team player and hard worker and Kevin Coughlin has many years of business knowledge working in the area, so while not having the experience of the previous administration, lets give them some time before we predict doom and gloom or complain about them. I have no issues with the people hired, just with the lack of transparency and the way the Manager has handled forming and announcing his team. Let’s hope that’s the biggest complaint we have about this Manager.

(Old Chinese Proverb.)
Is it better to keep your mouth shut and seem a fool, or to open your mouth and remove all doubt?

This past Tuesday Councilor Belanger while supporting a motion made by Mayor Elliot said some things that have those in the political bubble buzzing. Dick Howe even posted the transcript on his website, you can read it here. Part of what the councilor said that seemed to rankle a few people is this:

“But we got a problem that’s serious and it’s going to get far worse, of refugees, undocumented or illegal aliens, which ever term you choose to use, are pegged for Lowell. We are on that list. Many of which are unskilled and uneducated. And they’re on their way.” – C.Belanger

Look we all know that Councilor Belanger is no wordsmith and often he speaks without first getting any true facts, background information or intelligently. At times you swear he talks just to hear himself speak (tutored by Uncle Bud in that regard) but in this case, while his wording may not have been the most articulate, his meaning was pretty clear and many people including myself agree with the point he was trying to make.

I sum up what he was trying to say this way:

The working class families in this city cannot afford to keep paying higher and higher taxes, state, federal or municipal and everyone from the President, Congress, the Governor right down to local officials have to figure out a way to STOP ILLEGAL Immigration and ensure that those who were born here and have worked hard to go through the correct process to get here, have what they deserve and need to get an education and to thrive in this country!

There is nothing wrong with his NOT wanting the residents/taxpayers of Lowell from having to pay for UNDOCUMENTED / ILLEGAL people to receive services paid for by those that came here legally or were born here , while services or programs get cut because of budget constraints to attend to these non-legal residents.

Lord knows I beat this Councilor up for many reasons , but on this particular issue, I say cut him some slack. He may sound like Norm Crosby but on this point he and his intentions were well intended if not well presented.

Keystone Cops/Home is were the Checks get Mailed!

I am watching with interest the chaos in the Lowell Police Department in regards to the promotional exam and promotions in general. In case you missed it, the SUN had this story Friday:

A police sergeant has obtained a temporary restraining order preventing the city from promoting to lieutenant a sergeant who lives in New Hampshire.

On Tuesday, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Kenneth Desmond issued the order in response to Sgt. Steven O’Neill’s request that the city and Lowell Police Superintendent William Taylor be prevented from promoting Sgt. Donald Crawford to lieutenant.

Desmond found that O’Neill, who alleged Crawford does not comply with the local and state requirements that he live in Massachusetts, had shown a likelihood of prevailing on the merits of his request and could suffer irreparable harm if the requested relief was not granted.

A hearing on a preliminary injunction prohibiting Crawford’s promotion for a longer time period was scheduled to be heard Tuesday in Lowell Superior Court.

Just last week, I had written: 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 City 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.

IF a judge rules that this is enforceable, I would expect a City Council and a School Committee member to get a full list of city employees who live outside of MA. Why have an ordinance if you aren’t going to enforce it?

Q: What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a bad lawyer?
A: A bad lawyer can let a case drag out for several years. A good lawyer can make it last even longer.

This has NOT been a good week for the City’s Law Dept. They look inept and to some degree incompetent. First the issue with the License Commission and Finns/Brian Ivy Hall. Go back and watch the meeting, the two Asst. Solicitors appear to me to be coaxing, prodding, pushing for the License Commission to take away the Licenses and when the Chair ask if there was any Legal reason this could not be done, Mutt and Jeff (the Asst. Solicitors) say NO!

Very telling that Ray Weicker a former member of the License Commission and lawyer for Kevin Hayhurst apparently knows Mass State Law better than these two! Mr. Weicker made a point at the License Commission that I’m sure we are all going to hear more about in the coming weeks that again make the City Law dept. look like a bunch of bumbling fools.

According to him, the City – NOT THE LICENSE COMMISSION made a “deal” with him and his client that Mr. Hayhurt would resign and sell his interest in both businesses ASAP and drop the Injunction against the city in exchange for all the License Challenges / Charges against both establishments being dropped.

If this turns out to be correct, it would appear these two Asst. Solicitors then tried to backdoor the deal by finding the loophole about the Dissolution/ Dissolvement of the Corporation and tried to shut them down anyway and in the process violate their rights and make the License Commission look bad.

Then you hear about documents that have white out on them being presented in the hearing of a Lowell Police Superior Officer who is fighting for his job and you reflect upon the high cost the city has incurred in legal fights (that they have lost over the past few years) it hasn’t been a good few weeks for them.

Finally they release the news that 11 of 20 voting locations are being changed at 3:00 on a Friday when no one is paying attention and only a few bloggers even bother to mention it. To be clear 11 DID NOT HAVE TO CHANGE TO MEET STATE LAWS, only those precincts at the VFW, PAV and Elks had to move. The others were the decision of the Election Office Manager and the Commissioners and I’m not convinced the moves make it any easier for voters or parking.

Time for Councilors to show Support

State Rep Tom Golden mentioned that he and others would like to see a Regional Lock-Up included in plans for the new Courthouse. The Corrections Dept. would staff it and it would help to elevate cities and towns from having to house/transport/monitor those waiting arraignment. Several Councilors have been pushing the public safety button and waving the we need enforcement flag for the gun law. Let’s see if they stand behind the State Rep. and support this. In light of the tragedy that is playing out with the death of a women in custody here in Lowell, you would hope this Council would support the effort to open a regional lock up in a new courthouse.

Support Local Theater:

CHICAGO presented by the Greater Lowell Music Theatre performances on Friday, Aug. 1, at 7.30 pm; Saturday, Aug 2, at 7.30 pm; and Sunday, Aug 3, at 2 pm in Durgin Concert Hall at UMass Lowell, 35 Wilder Street. Parking available in the lot at Wilder and Broadway on the University’s South Campus. For tickets and other details, visit www.glmt.org

Stop! then Shop anywhere but Market Basket
I’m the 4th oldest of 11 and we lived close to the Bridge St. Market Basket. I’ve been a customer for 40 years and have NEVER seen the parking lot has empty as I did Saturday. Not even during the days following the blizzard of 78. I shopped at Hannaford in Dracut today for my complete order. Not the I want to choose a side in the family fight but to support the staff of the store, many including Manager Andy Haggerty and others have been there for a long time. I stopped by Market Basket to support the workers but didn’t go in to shop there.

I also didn’t realize the effect this was having on other grocery stores like Hannaford. I was speaking to an associate there who was asked to work in the Dracut store for a few weeks. He came from one of the New York stores. This Dracut store has been so busy, that they needed reinforcements to give their staff a break.

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City Announces relocation of 11 Polling places

Press Release_Polling Locations

On Folk Festival Friday at 3:00 pm the City sends out a Press release to inform residents that 11 of 20 Polling places have changed.

While I 100% understand the need for these changes and wholeheartedly support them, is the last Friday in July the best time to send out a press release and expect anyone to be paying attention?

Another mis-step by the Law Dept. which runs the Election Division.

I’ve attached the polling locations, here is the Press Release:

Election Commission | Census Office The City of Lowell City Hall • 375 Merrimack Street, Rm. 5 • Lowell, MA 01852 P: 978.970.4000978.970.4000 • F: 978.970.4007 http://www.LowellMA.gov

Contact:
Eda Matchak, Director of Elections Ematchak@LowellMA.gov

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Polling Locations
Office: (978) 674-1200(978) 674-1200

LOWELL, MA (July 25, 2014) On Thursday, July 24, 2014 the City of Lowell Election Commission voted to relocate eleven of the City’s twenty polling locations. These changes will ensure that polling locations are handicap accessible and compliant with state regulations. The City of Lowell Election Commission collaborated with the City of Lowell Disability Commission, neighborhood leaders and community organizations to provide the best possible polling locations for the voters of Lowell. The Election Commission will continue to make improvements to polling locations to guarantee student safety, equal accessibility and increased voter participation.

The City of Lowell Election Commission would like to thank our new community partners including the Lowell Housing Authority, Lowell Telecommunications, D’Youville Life and Wellness Community and the Christian Church of Restoration.

All voters impacted these changes will be notified by mail prior to Election Day. Below is an updated list of all polling locations throughout the City of Lowell. Sign up for future alerts, notices, and broadcasts from the Election and Census Office via the following web page:

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Folk Festival Kicks Off Today! Saturday Morning Live Tomorrow

The Folk Festival kicks off tonight so stop by and enjoy some music and food.

Join Warren Shaw and company tomorrow morning 6:00 -10:00 am on Saturday Morning Live has we broadcast from in front of Boarding House Park.

WCAP-AM_logo

Leading off at 7:00 from the Lowell Spinners Everyone’s favorite Del “Dog Man” Christman, the Spinners Clubhouse MGR

DEL

Our friend Arthur Sutcliffe, chairman of the Lowell Festival Foundation will join us at 8:00

AS

Jack Neary from The Greater Lowell Music Theater will join us around 9:30 to promote CHICAGO playing next weekend AUGUST 1, 2014 – AUGUST 3, 2014.

Who knows who else may stop by?

pic4

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Positive, Happy News for Folk Festival Weekend

LowellFolkFestival-logo

The Folk Festival starts tomorrow so Lowellians need to hold hands, sing Kumbaya and be nothing but positive over the next few days Welcoming tourist (and their $$) into our City.

Even I’ll be positive and share good news and positive observations:

Manager builds his team:

The City Manager created a 3rd Asst. City Manager position that wasn’t in the budget, did it without any Council approval but the really Good News is there is NO Mention in the breaking news section of the SUN regarding the Manager’s release announcing these hirings and promotions (Rodney Conley to become the data-management analyst) about eliminating the Asst. City Manager Position! (That’s good news for the many Neighborhood Groups and supporters of Henri Marchand who does a great job).

More good news is that longtime Lowell good guy Kevin Coughlin joins the Manager’s DPD staff (Who doesn’t like Kevin). I guess we should be happy and not complain about transparency even when the public doesn’t get told what the salaries are for any of these positions (that seems to be okay with the SUN.) In case you missed it here is the Link to the SUN’s/Lyle Moran’s story:

LOWELL — City Manager Kevin Murphy announced Wednesday that he has hired Mike McGovern as assistant city manager. Murphy also announced he has hired Kevin Coughlin as deputy director of the Department of Planning and Development, and he is also promoting Rodney Conley to become the data-management analyst.

All three will begin their new roles Aug. 1.

The Mayor has done an outstanding job representing the City and dealing with the Community in the wake of the Branch Street Fire. He has been sincere and praised the first responders and others who have assisted the families and honored the victims. Truly he has represented the City well.

The Lowell Sun, WCAP and the Valley Patriot have covered this ongoing Market Basket saga in a highly professional way and have really been supportive of the workers and customers and done a solid job sharing their stories with the public.

The DPD has done a great job spreading the word about the upcoming traffic changes, people know that many streets are being changed to 2-way and it is well publicized.

The Lowell Folk Festival is doing a good job getting word out. I’ve seen TV commercials, heard it talked about on several Boston radio stations and a stream of people on the local radio to promote it.

Finn’s Pub gets to re-open and enjoy Folk festival weekend. Brian’s Ivy Hall also has they won an injunction against the City. Kevin Hayhurst, Ray Weicker and Eric Finn are all Happy that the License Board or City Law Dept. didn’t know Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138, Section 12, which states that if a license is suspended or revoked “for any particular cause” no action shall be taken to actually seize the license until the license holder has had a chance to appeal to the ABCC. Congrats to Eric and Kevin and keep things positive and in good order boys.

Hey Finn’s is also an Irish Bar! In fact they are truly based on Sun stories the original “Wicked Irish”! *That’s good news for those who like REAL Irish Bars!

There soon may be a Chinese Restaurant located downtown. That’s good news for some.

Hannafords in Dracut is Happy there is another Rally for Market Basket Friday July 25th, the place has never been busier. Dracut School Committee member Mike McNamara was Happy to offer a ride to the rally.

Start humming these songs to get you in a Happy, positive mood:

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Or just sing along with Charlie Brown and Happiness!

Remember for at least this weekend IN SUMMER, do what Teddy Panos wants, forget the negativity of the past, just be happy and positive and let this Council and Administration do whatever they want. Just LET IT GO!

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Finn’s Pub Reopening TODAY!

Another loss for the City License Commission today. Finn’s Pub has been granted permission to re-open effective today and will do so.

I don’t have full details yet but will update when available. In the meantime stop in for some food and karaoke.

UPDATE: Brian’s Ivy Hall also re-opening for Folk Festival. Court Injunction allows both to re-open

Finn

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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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