Olympic Rowing on the River?

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For something that wasn’t supposed to be widely talked about or even a possibility, now we have two (2) reports that not only is the push to bring the Olympics to Boston real but LOWELL could be hosting the Rowing Events on the Merrimack.

Today’s Boston Business Journal sites Partnership president Dan O’Connell listing Lowell has a possible site.

Outside Route 128: There are some events that the Partnership could not locate in or close to Boston. That includes rowing, which would take place on the Merrimack River in Lowell. (The Charles River’s bridges would get in the way, per Olympics guidelines.)

Yesterday in the Focus Section of the Sun Editor Jim Campanini wrote:

The commission has been meeting privately with municipal and university officials for months, engaging them to support the proposal and seeking their participation in the Games. Donoghue, who was appointed to the commission by Senate President Therese Murray, has played an integral part in these discussions. Recently, a closed-door meeting was held at UMass Lowell with Chancellor Marty Meehan, members of Lowell’s Statehouse delegation and other university officials in attendance. Few details have leaked out. But it’s obvious Massachusetts is all-in for presenting a qualified bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, vying with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. (The U.S. Olympic Committee will select the best proposal by the end of 2015, and submit it to the International Olympic Committee for consideration against other global competitors. The IOC will make its final selection in 2017, seven years ahead of the 2024 Summer Games.) Lowell, according to sources, is being considered for a key role in the Boston plan. Commission members are eyeing the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell for basketball games and boxing matches. They also want to use the university’s dormitories to house athletes, game officials, workers and media members.

The commission is excited about restoring baseball as an Olympic sport, which would bring fabled Fenway Park into the mix for championship round games. This would be a boon to Lowell and LeLacheur Park, which has been identified as a potential venue to host preliminary-round games, along with McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I.

But Lowell’s biggest asset — and one that is essential to the Olympic effort — is the Merrimack River. According to sources, the mighty Merrimack is the lone waterway in eastern Massachusetts that can be upgraded to the stringent Olympic competitive rowing standards. It also offers a clear, unobstructed straightaway for rowers and ample space on both riverbanks to build viewing stands for spectators.

So what do you think? Will the Olympics be “Rowing on the River”?

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Control Issues or Staff Inexperience ? Why does Manager want to cancel 11/25 meeting?

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VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
Vote-Cancel Council Meetings 11/11 and 11/25/14

I can understand canceling the Veterans Day City Council Meeting but I can’t understand the reason (and there has been none given publicly) to cancel the November 25th meeting aside from the fact it is the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.

Maybe City Manager Murphy is more of a control guy than people accused Manager Lynch of being? Rumors around Lynch said that the Manager didn’t want Dept. heads responding to Councilors and had to inform him before talking to a Councilor or media person.

Rumors about Manager Murphy say Asst. Manager Mike McGovern must clear everything first. Maybe Murphy doesn’t want the Council to meet without him being there less someone says something he doesn’t want said?

Maybe he plans to be away that week and due to the inexperience of his staff in Municipal Gov’t, he wants to protect them and just cancel the meeting. New Asst. City Manager Tradd who has worked for the City for years but is not part of the usual Tuesday meeting and hasn’t had to respond to the Council. Mike McGovern who until July was employed as Greater Lowell Technical High School’s coordinator of school information/school foundation is new to the Tuesday meetings. Conner Baldwin the CFO has only been in place for a few months but based on his performance during the budget hearings, could probably handle any questions from the Council.

Ralph Snow the DPW Director / Asst City Manager has held that position longer than Tradd or McGovern but isn’t really a Murphy insider and even under Lynch never served as Acting Manager.

Control Issues or Inexperience, why else should the meeting be cancelled?

Explanation Please!

Here’s a look at what the 2014 Budget for the Manager’s Office was:

CITY MANAGER $ 183,864 Asst. to City Manager $ 79,760 Executive Assistant $ 51,524
Data Analyst $ 62,541 Jr. Data Analyst $ 48,858 Neighborhood Coordinator $ 66,679
Administrative Assistant $ 42,593

Now here’s a look at the 2015 Budget submitted for the Manager’s Office:

CITY MANAGER $ 175,000 Asst. to City Manager $ 83,988 Executive Assistant $55,710
Data Analyst $ 65,853 Jr. Data Analyst $ 50,093 Neighborhood Coordinator $ 68,346

Notice there is no Line Item in the submitted budget for the Administrative Assistant Position and yet we know that the job was at least advertised. Is someone doing the job? If so where are the funds coming from?

There’s also the question of where the extra $3,100 that was not in the budget for the New Asst. City Manager position is coming from. The budget line for the Asst. to the Manager was $83,988 not the $87,000 the SUN reported that the new position pays.

Job Elimination?

Is the City eliminating the junior data analyst position? Since promoting Rodney Conley to become the data-management analyst August 1st have they advertised or hired for this position? There is no person listed in the City directory with this title.

That job was budgeted for $50,093 which would cover the Administrative Assistant Position along with the Extra $3,100 that was not in the budget for the New Asst. City Manager and still leave a surplus in the payroll budget for the Manager’s Office.

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Sunday Notes October 19th 2014

“The people of the city pay his salary and they are entitled to know what is going on at City Hall. Anything less is a disservice to the people of the city.” Rodney Elliott 2011 talking about the City Manager

I for one believe the public has every right to know what is going on at City Hall and that “Open Govt” means the public has to be informed just as the Council does,

We find out in this week’s City Council Agenda through a motion by Councilor Leary that the City doesn’t have a Traffic (Transportation) Engineer

9.3. C. Leahy – Req. City Mgr. explore possibility of using outside contract or service to fill the vacant position of Traffic Engineer.

Eric Eby left the City in Sept. for the private sector and the position is now posted. (for 10 days)

I had emailed and asked all 9 City Councilors – Do you agree with Mayor Elliot’s statement that “The people of the city pay the Manager’s salary and they are entitled to know what is going on at City Hall? Is Anything less a disservice to the people of the city.”?

Only 2 Councilors responded. Jim Milinazzo

Hi Gerry,

How are you doing?
Yes-I agree with Mayor Elliot’s statement. Let me ask you-did he make this statement as Mayor?

Jim

Dan Rourke:

Hey Gerry,
I would both agree w the mayor’s statement and also stress that I believe that City Hall has been transparent. Since asst city manager Mike McGovern has been in place, the administration has released numerous press releases relating to upcoming events, personnel decisions, as well as public safety and economic updates. With regards to the treasurer situation, I believe Manager Murphy was ready to announce Mr Lumbra’s hiring but as we now know, he chose not to accept the position at the last-minute.

Take care,
Danny

If Councilor Rourke is correct, then why hasn’t the City Manager’s Office replied to a Public Records request I submitted on October 8th asking for any/all press releases sent out by the City Manager’s Office, Mayor’s Office, City Council and any City Department (with the exception of the Lowell School Committee) since April 11th of this year?

In the private sector, many of us work Columbus Day to get the day after Thanksgiving off. So why is the City Manager asking the Council to cancel the Council meeting on Tuesday November 25th? Is the Manager going to give the entire city staff Wednesday or Friday off? Or just himself and the 9 Councilors an extra vacation day?

Chris Scott returned to post his Column Blog this past Thursday (but didn’t include it in today’s Political Column.) He reported that the Water Dept. phone that sent text messages to Erik Gitschier’s mom is missing and can’t be found but since everyone seems to now be playing nice, the Manager’s Office is dropping the search but now has a record of every city owned phone.

Scary that since becoming Mayor the self proclaimed Fiscal Watchdog is having trouble with numbers. I posted on Tuesday that Manager Murphy seemed to be doing a good job keeping the Council informed on legal cases involving the City, meeting approx. once (1) a month with the entire Council in Executive session.

One of the knocks against former Manager Lynch, was that he didn’t keep the Council aware of sensitive information (like the status of lawsuits) but during the review of this Council’s Agenda’s so far this year, it appears Manager Murphy and the Council have an Executive Session at least once a month (twice in April, none in May)

On WCAP with Teddy on Wednesday, the Mayor was being very defensive because it was me stating they had meetings and said that these meetings weren’t once a month. (Teddy didn’t seem to be able to comprehend that I wasn’t attacking these sessions, just noting them and asking about releasing minutes, but he plays to the anti-Gerry -anti-blogger crowd anyway)

Now I know his ego the Mayor hates anything I say, but even HE and Teddy should be able to COUNT to 7, especially when the numbers come from the City Council Agenda. Manager Murphy started in April it is now October – that equals 7 Month. My Friend the COUNT will help the Mayor and Teddy by counting the number of Executive Sessions posted since April…

Rodney, Follow along with me...starting with 1

Rodney, Follow along with me…starting with 1


1) APRIL 1st 12.1. 2014 / 237 – Executive Session regarding pending litigation, public discussion of which could have a detrimental effect on the City’s position.
2) April 8th 2014 Executive Session – Review negotiations with City Manager-Elect;
3) JUN 24th 2014 CITY COUNCIL – EXECUTIVE SESSION 11.1. 2014 / 471 – Executive session, pursuant to “Exemption 3”, to discuss strategy with respect to potential litigation regarding the Greater Lowell Technic al High School
4) July 8th 2014 CITY COUNCIL – EXECUTIVE SESSION Executive Session, pursuant to “Exemption 4”, relative to the deployment of security personnel and strategies relating to their deployment
5) Aug 26th 2014 3.1. 2014 / 588 – Executive Session regarding matters of pending litigation relative to the GLRVS, worker compensation cases, other injured on-duty cases,
6) Sept 9th 2014 CITY COUNCIL – EXECUTIVE SESSION CITY COUNCIL – EXECUTIVE SESSION 10.1. Executive Session – Pursuant to “Exemption 4″
7)TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2014Executive Session – Regarding pending litigation, public discussion of which could have a detrimental effect on the City’s position.

WERE YOU ABLE TO COUNT TO 7 MR. MAYOR? If Manager Murphy has been here 7 months and the Council has had 7 Executive Sessions in that time period, than the AVERAGE = ONCE A MONTH! even a fiscal watchdog and talk radio host ,should be able to count to 7.

It must really upset the Mayor , Jim Campy and the SUN that the LHA gets such a positive rating by HUD after the relentless attacks on the LHA over the past year.The Good news out of LHA this week may be only the beginning and another announcement with more good news may be coming in the next few weeks.

Yesterday in the Saturday chat and today in the Column Blog is a rumor that has been floating around since June concerning Bill Martin and Jim Milinazzo. Martin is said to be considering ending his political career.While I think Mr. Martin is a nice guy, he hasn’t been a leader that I had hoped he would be and it may be time to step aside.

The other vacancy might be created by Councilor James Milinazzo. Anxious to erase a bitter loss in 2011, Milinazzo wanted to leave the council on his own terms. Jim Milinazzo. on City Life in the past few weeks addressed the rumor saying he intends at this point to run again. So far he has been one of the only Councilors to put in motions that challenge other councilors. Hopefully he starts asking the Manager for more accountability and stays on. He has a wealth of knowledge from his DPD days and his time as Ex. Director at the LHA along with his banking background. The Council needs his knowledge and expertise.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery (again) to Lowell Good Guy Jack Baldwin, your voice and laughter will be missed from the WCAP airwaves. Looking forward to your return.

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Lowell City Council Agenda Oct. 21 2014

Here’s the Link to this week’s Council Agenda.

A couple of Items that caught my attention:

VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
Vote-Cancel Council Meetings 11/11 and 11/25/14

I understand Canceling the Veterans Day meeting but why the Tuesday before Thanksgiving? Most of us in the private sector work.

Councilor motions:

This one should get John McDonough fired up!

C. Leahy/C. Kennedy – Req. City Mgr. update City Council on report on police vehicles dated July 10, 2013; as well as requesting Supt. of LPD explore possibility of allowing Lowell officers living in the City be able to take cruisers home after shifts.

A Good Idea from Councilor Belanger to help the downtown businesses during the Holidays:C. Belanger – Req. City Council approve a program which would allow two free weekends of parking (November 28 and 29; December 19 and 20) in downtown garages.

Here is the complete list of Councilor Motions:

9.1. C. Leahy/C. Kennedy – Req. City Mgr. update City Council on report on police vehicles dated July 10, 2013; as well as requesting Supt. of LPD explore possibility of allowing Lowell officers living in the City be able to take cruisers home after shifts.

9.2. C. Leahy – Req. City Mgr. prepare a report outlining the use of private contracts as well as the use of city and private equipment for 2014/2015 snow removal; in addition explore new strategy regarding snow removal in the downtown and the neighborhoods.

9.3. C. Leahy – Req. City Mgr. explore possibility of using outside contract or service to fill the vacant position of Traffic Engineer.

9.4. C. Belanger – Req. City Council approve a program which would allow two free weekends of parking (November 28 and 29; December 19 and 20) in downtown garages.

9.5. C. Belanger – Req. City Mgr. establish Neighborhood Crime Watch throughout the City including installation of proper signage along gateways.

9.6. C. Belanger – Req. City Council discuss potential parking ordinance changes and refer to Economic Development SC for further discussion.

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LHA Designated a High Performing Public Housing Agency

GN: Sharing Good News from the Lowell Housing Authority

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Dear Stakeholders:

I am pleased to announce that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has declared that the Lowell Housing Authority (LHA) has achieved the designation of High Performing Public Housing Agency. HUD recently informed me that the LHA received a Public Housing Assessment Score (PHAS) score of 90 points for the most recent fiscal year ending September 30, 2013.

The PHAS system is used by HUD to annually evaluate and measure the performance of the LHA on the major programs it administers. The public housing program is evaluated on the basis of four (4) areas including; Physical, Financial, Management and Capital funds.

This score is an exceptional achievement given the age of our developments and the declining financial resources. I credit the team approach for the achievement. Our concept of team consists of everyone from residents, maintenance, management and finance staff and our Board of Commissioners.

There is much strategic thinking and planning that goes into running the agency and it is through this process with our team that we were able attain this kind of success.

I would like to thank our HUD field representatives in Boston for their guidance and assistance.

Additionally, I need to recognize our partnerships with the Lowell Police Department and non-profit groups that help improve the quality of life for our residents.

The recognition as “High Performer” will give the LHA flexibility and creativity in administering the agency as well as future grant opportunities and financial rewards for additional modernization funds.

I am extremely proud of our agency and this designation is testimony to our good work.

Gary Wallace
Executive Director.

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A Column in Pictures

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State Rep. Dave Nangle  proving he does support some Democrats over Republicans. (Especially those that are buying at the Old Court)

State Rep. Dave Nangle proving he does support some Democrats over Republicans. (Especially those that are buying at the Old Court)

To paraphrase another individual - When she's not playing golf or putting on her make-up, Apparently  former GLRTHS Supt. Santoro is keeping busy campaigning for State Rep. candidate Rady Mom.

To paraphrase another individual – When she’s not playing golf or putting on her make-up, Apparently former GLRTHS Supt. Santoro is keeping busy campaigning for State Rep. candidate Rady Mom.

Can you identify the man in the tan jacket? Why was he a "Must Hire" and What exactly does he do for the City?

Can you identify the man in the tan jacket? Why was he a “Must Hire” and What exactly does he do for the City?

In one hand I hold  my  "little brothers" I mean the Mayor's  list of cuts I've been instructed to make to hire more Police. In the other, I've completed his daughter's history project!

In one hand I hold my “little brothers” I mean the Mayor’s list of cuts I’ve been instructed to make to hire more Police. In the other, I’ve completed his daughter’s history project!

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Question for State Rep Candidate Rady Mom, why the Radio Silence?

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As many of you are aware, I’m a regular fixture on WCAP’s Saturday Morning Live. Warren Shaw host and he and I often have different views on the issue of the day, week and we have some good discussion and dialogue.

As you may also know from reading this blog WCAP’s Ted Panos, John MacDonald, Tom Duggan and I don’t agree on to many of the same issues or political candidates. That is one of the benefits of local radio, you get to hear various views and viewpoints by the host, guest and callers.

One thing the 4 of us do agree on is the importance of local radio. WCAP offers the people of Greater Lowell a chance to have their local, state and sometimes National leaders and candidates heard and the opportunity for listeners to call in and ask the candidates questions.

You also know from this and my original blog, that Fred Bahou and I have had our share of differences. The one thing I will give Fred credit for is even though I have “attacked” him, he never ignores an email or phone call and has always answered any questions or invitation I have sent him in a respectful, professional way.

Isn’t that what is missing in politics today? Someone willing to stand up and be respectful and willing to answer?

So I’m in total shock that 18th Middlesex State Rep. candidate Rady Mom and the people who advise him would not want him to avail himself of the time offered on many shows. On top of that, to not have the decency, courtesy or plain out manners to respond to email and voice messages is just downright rude!

Each show may have their own personal view but I have yet to hear any host who has a guest on, be rude or purposely try to embarrass or make the guest look bad. We all get the fact that this person is willing to give up their time to do “our” show so while we all ask questions, none of us that I can recall set out to embarrass any candidate, elected official or guest.

If you want to represent the city or a portion of it, don’t count on the fact that just because you are a Democrat, or a minority or have the Democratic machine endorsing you, that you can just walk into a position while not giving the people of the district you want to represent along with the entire city and Greater Lowell area, the chance to hear your views on a variety of issues.

The fact you may be “walking” the district is a wonderful thing, but ducking the media and the hometown radio station is a foolish strategy and Rady Mom and his “handlers” should at the very least respond to invitations to appear.

What is the harm in acting in a grown up responsible, respectful manner and say No thanks to people who have tried to be fair and give you the opportunity to present yourself to the people of the 18th Middlesex District?

So here is my 1 question for 18th Middlesex State Rep. Candidate Rady Mom…WHY THE RADIO SILENCE??

PS: To be 100% Clear, my views do not represent Warren Shaw, Sam Poulten, WCAP, its staff or advertisers.

NO ONE ELSE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT I POST! CALL / TEXT ME DIRECTLY WITH ANY COMMENTS/CONCERNS.

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