hiatus 2

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Merrimack Valley Means Business

When you hear the words the Merrimack Valley, many of us think Lowell is the center of the Valley and that we hold the exclusive rights to “Market” the Merrimack Valley.

However a group of Mayors and Managers led by Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera have put together a plan to Market their section of the Valley and it is starting to get noticed.

Today’s Boston Business Journal has this story: Merrimack Valley mayors embrace a regional approach to economic development

A Big Part of the story is this:

The Merrimack Valley Mayors and Managers Coalition launched a new version of the “Merrimack Valley Means Business” website earlier this month, with an updated database of the available commercial and industrial properties from Andover to Newburyport. The site was initially launched by the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce in 2006, and has since evolved over time to incorporate more cities and towns in the area. The mayors are paying LoopNet, an online commercial real estate service, to ensure the site remains updated.

To help promote the new site, the mayors, through the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, applied this month for $115,000 from the state’s Community Innovation Challenge Grant. The application’s focus on economic development is unusual, as most of the prior winners of CIC grants revolve around municipal services such as schools and storm-water management. It certainly will be competitive: A spokeswoman for the state Executive Office of Administration & Finance says there were 93 applicants for grants from a $3 million pot. Among other things, the eight Merrimack Valley mayors and town managers would use the money to advertise the revamped website, pay for a Merrimack Valley “Guide to Doing Business” and fund a business support team and training sessions.

The website is pretty nice and it will be interesting to see how they do.

It may inspire Lowell to team with Chelmsford, Westford, Tyngsboro, Tewksbury, Billerica and Dracut to form a similar coalition and work together.

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Is Dracut School Dept. Boycotting Greater Lowell Tech?

dr

We know that Lowell City Councilor Ed Kennedy wants the City to challenge the make-up of the Greater Lowell Tech Board and that several of the Towns are unhappy about that.

We also know the Dracut School Committee is always looking for more money and with a brand new High School Addition complete wants to keep as many students attending Dracut High as they can.

However is it legal and proper for the Dracut School System to not allow 8th grade students to attend an information day at the TECH just as Lowell students do? In years past it has been a regular practice by Dracut and Lowell to bring 8th graders to the GLRTHS during the school day and hear about the many opportunities the school offers.

Lowell still does and my daughter attended the session yesterday and was very impressed with the school.

It seems Dracut has changed their policy and former GLRTHS Member Victor Olson asked current Tech Supt Roger Bourgeois if he knew why and what was going on.

Here is Victor’s Post from the Facebook Page Friends of GLTHS with the Tech Supt’s response.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 1.44.09 PM

I’m am not sure if this is an appropriate place to post this however, for informational purposes this is the response I received to inquiry as to why students from Dracut were not attending Career Awareness Session at Greater Lowell as was done in past years.

“Hi Victor,

Thank you for the note and inquiry.

On Sunday October 5th our guidance department received an email from Principal Maria McGuinness informing us that “We are opting not to send students during the school day as was done in past years.”

She also indicated that we should contact the District Business Office if we are interested in reserving their auditorium to host an event for students and parents in the evening.

In response, the guidance department has asked her to provide mailing labels of 7th and 8th grade students so that we could mail information about the educational opportunities offered at GLT as well as invite parents/guardians and students to attend our Open House on November 13th. Her response was that they would give students any materials that we supply to them.

Please see the Commissioner’s Update with regard to Access to Vocational Technical Education at http://www.doe.mass.edu/commissioner/2011/cm111411.html

I am confused as to the reason or rationale for this change with regard to serving the best interest of Dracut students. It is also troubling that the first notification to us of the change was not made until October 5th.

As always, your support and assistance is greatly appreciated.
Best regards,
Roger
Roger Bourgeois
Superintendent-Director
Greater Lowell Technical High School”

Current GLTHS member Joe Espinola is being very cautious and trying to work with everyone to get this resolved and to make sure all facts are reported and offered this Post:

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 1.43.31 PM

In regards to the situation regarding the Guidance Department at Greater Lowell Tech not being able to address the Dracut Eighth Grade Students at Greater Lowell.

The Representatives on the Greater Lowell School Committee are working very hard to develop a compromise with Mr. Stone, members of the Dracut School Committee and RMS to resolve this situation that is of concern to the Dracut – Greater Lowell Representatives, Dracut Junior HS parents and others.
I am confident that there will be an information session soon in some format for DJS students. Please spread the info about the open house at Greater Lowell On Nov 13th 2014. In the meantime, you may call Greater Lowell Guidance Dept. for all the info you need in regards to attending the school as well as the open house at 978-454-5411.

Be cautious of believing all what you are hearing and seeing regarding this situation. Not all the info I have been informed about and what I have read has been entirely true.
Regards
Joe Espinola
Greater Lowell School Committee, Dracut Rep

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Market Street Paving Update

Market

To those that live, work, travel or visit the Market St area, from Athenian Corner down to Central Street the City wants to keep you updated on the paving that is taking place.

The contractor recently completed milling of existing street surface and work on adjusting street structures, i.e. manhole covers, catch basins, etc.

Final structure surface work will be completed by National Grid on 10/28/14.

Market Street paving is scheduled to take place this Sunday night, 11/2/14 with a chance it may be started sooner (perhaps tomorrow Wednesday night 10/29/14.)

Paving will only take one night.

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Cheryl Robertson chosen as the City Treasurer/ Collector of Taxes

Dear Mayor Elliott and Members of the Lowell City Council,

I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Cheryl Robertson as the City Treasurer/ Collector. She comes highly recommended and has 15 years of experience in municipal government as well as 10 years of experience in private industry, the combination of which will serve the City of Lowell quite well.

Cheryl received a bachelor’s degree from the former University of Lowell in Business Administration and Accounting. She began her municipal career as the Town Accountant in Billerica, later becoming the Finance Director for the Town of Hamilton. Cheryl worked in a variety of roles in the public sector, and is both a Certified Public Purchasing Officer and a Certified Governmental Accountant. She also served as the Director of Policy and Administration for the City of Newburyport and later became the city’s Treasurer/ Collector. I am confident Cheryl’s experience in accounting and administration will ensure that the responsibilities and functions of the Treasurer’s Office will be conducted to the highest standard. Her extensive understanding of municipal finance including debt management, cash reconciliation, customer service, and familiarity with the City’s MUNIS financial system, render Cheryl as the ideal candidate for the position.

I look forward to having Cheryl come aboard and I am confident that she will complete what I consider to be a very strong financial team.

Sincerely,

Kevin J. Murphy
City Manager

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What took so Long to Fix W. Sixth St. Firehouse? and Why doesn’t Councilor Belanger Know?

wsix

City Councilor Corey Belanger has this item on the agenda this week:

10.4. C. Belanger – Req. City Mgr. have West 6th Street Firehouse inspected for possible roof repair.

My question is, what the heck has taken so long to fix this roof? If memory serves me correct (and I may be mistaken) it seems to me that in the 2014 Capital Improvement Budget passed when the Lynch Administration was in place last July, it included funding for a new roof for the West Sixth St. station.

So why didn’t a bid go out BEFORE October 1 of this year? If everyone knew the roof was in fact leaking and in need of repair, why did it take the City 10 months to send out the bid?

D. Project Schedule is as follows:
Project out to bid ………………………….October 1, 2014
General Bids Due…………………………October 27, 2014
A contract is expected to be promptly awarded to the lowest responsible and eligible bidder. The construction phase is expected to occur during fall 2014.

Why since a bid is already out to repair the roof, is Councilor Belanger filing a motion to “Inspect the Roof?” and Why doesn’t he already know that a bid is being open and presumably awarded today to fix the roof? Doesn’t he ask the Manager or Asst. Manager before he files a motion that seems to be a waste of time?

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Sunday Notes October 26th 2014

TED

Where is the Love or disdain for Ted Panos? Last Monday he announced he is considering running for the Lowell School Committee and not so much as a mention in the SUN or Lowell Live Feed Forum. No reaction is worse than an anti reaction. You may just want to stay behind the mic Teddy.

Not surprising that Rady Mom has limited his radio appearances. It seems to me many Democrats are staying away from radio. Sen. Liz Warren only appears on WCAP during the Salvation Army Radiothon and ignores radio aside from that. Congresswoman Tsongas I believe only does once a month. Talk radio has long been seen as a Republican tool on the National level and it seems that some state and local Dems are buying into it.

Thankfully Lowell State Reps. Tom Golden and Dave Nangle along with Sen. Eileen Donoghue aren’t following that trend and make themselves available to Lowell voters. If Rady Mom loses on Nov. 4th his handlers can and should blame themselves. State Reps. in Lowell have a long history of easy access to the community and citizens and Rady is NOT doing that while Fred Bahou is.

I wonder if the City Manager put the item on the Agenda to cancel the November 25th meeting at the behest of a City Councilor or Mayor and that’s why it passed without comment.

I for one think the City Council should go back to an every other week meeting. It is better for the Manager and his staff, easier for the Councilors who all (or most) have other full-time jobs and makes better use of sub-committees who could meet during the off week.

According to the City Manager on WCAP yesterday, the City is close to hiring a Treasurer.

I can see both the Police Supt. and the Police Union having issue with Councilor Leahy’s motion to allow Officers who are LOWELL Residents to take cruisers home. How you pick and choose is beyond me and would create animosity issues in the ranks (in my opinion)

I have to imagine that the wine expert and Mayor were crying over their Merlot when they read the Press Release from LHA Executive Director Dr. Gary Wallace and saw the following: (Bold mine)

I am pleased to report that the HUD Boston field office and HUD’s Office of Inspector General have accepted all of the LHA’s corrective action steps and policy adoptions. Furthermore, and most important, HUD has concurred with an independent cost analysis validating that the LHA completed capital improvement projects in a cost effective manner.

What does this mean for the Lowell Housing Authority?

Essentially, the Audit issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of everyone involved. The Lowell Housing Authority successfully demonstrated that the $11.4 million dollar investment was cost effective for the taxpayers and our stakeholders. As a result the LHA is free from any encumbrance and free to reinstitute force account labor as a method of completing capital construction projects.

The Mayor and SUN tried to force out both the former Manager and the LHA Executive Director and Lynch stuck it to Elliott before the Council could stick it to him while Wallace out lasted, fought back and was proved correct. Great result for the LHA and good people who try to do the right thing.

Nice to see Councilor Rita Mercier acting to get any minutes of Executive Sessions that can legally be released, released! That’s the way it is supposed to be done and glad she is doing so. I’m sure many others are happy with her for her motion to ask the BayState Marathon to come up with a route that doesn’t impact every major bridge in the city.

Someone from the Economic Development Sub-Committee or Convention and Visitors Bureau should figure out how to host some event the Saturday Night before to showcase the downtown to the runners and their friends and family. A BIG Pasta Dinner at the Lowell High Cafeteria followed by 20% off or other incentives to visit a store or establishment in the downtown the night before the race would be a huge boon to the downtown.

Can someone PLEASE tell me that Lowell High did not act in a negative manner and not allow the Marathon People to use the school for registration or preparation as someone is telling me and others?

Happy I did not hear of any issue’s from the UMASS Lowell Seniors Pub Crawl last Saturday in the downtown.

Get Well shout Out to one of the areas leading Democrats and nice Ladies, Maria Sweeney who is under the weather and hopefully back on her feet soon.

I was somewhat surprised that Councilor Ed Kennedy would submit any motion involving the Lowell Police like he did last week, since his brother is an officer and the Ethics Commission clearly states that any appearance of Conflict should be avoided or you should have a disclosure filed. (Kennedy is no stranger to Ethics Violation)

Conflict of interest of public official; reporting requirement.

G.L. c. 268A, Section 19
Municipal employees, relatives or associates; financial interest in particular matter.

Section 19. (a) Except as permitted by paragraph (b), a municipal employee who participates as such an employee in a particular matter in which to his knowledge he, his immediate family or partner, a business organization in which he is serving as officer, director, trustee, partner or employee, or any person or organization with whom he is negotiating or has any arrangement concerning prospective employment, has a financial interest, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or in a jail or house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years, or both.

I was surprised to find out that Councilors Kennedy, Belanger and Samaras who in my estimation all have reasons to file disclosures (Kennedy brother a Police Officer / Samaras Son works for City / Belanger Liquor Establishment Owner who votes for License Commissioners) have not filed any. In fact only 3 City Councilors have a disclosure on file and in my view two of them really (Martin and Milinazzo) who didn’t have any vote / influence on the Ambulance Contract didn’t need to but filed one anyway. The other Councilor was John Leahy when his brother in-law was a City Manager Finalist.

Steve Gendron from the School Committee has one filed but neither Connie Martin or Kristen Ross- Sictawich who work for CTI have one filed (even if another division, Ethics Commission may advise them to file since CTI has contracts with the School).

Several other City workers including Deputy Supt. Lang and John Descoteaux have disclosures on file.

Here are the current disclosures as of Sept. 2014 filed with the City:

DiscloseDisclosure2

Glad the Election is almost over, I’m sure many of you are tired of getting emails like this: NOTE THAT THESE WERE ALL IN 1 DAY, SOMETIMES MINUTES APART – Can you say SPAMMING! They start off confident and cocky and then DEVASTATED AND WE”RE PLEADING!

From: “BREAKING-NEWS@dccc.org”
To: gnutter@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 12:29:31 PM
Subject: Boehner GONE

John Boehner must have just gone off the deep end when he saw this: That’s right. We hit an unprecedented 3,OOO,OOO online donations to elect Democrats. That’s a powerful grassroots movement for progress.

But we only have about 5 minutes to celebrate, because we have to get back to work right now. Boehner’s allies just piled in another $4.7 million to steal this election.

From: “breakingnews@dscc.org”
To: gnutter@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 2:12:57 PM
Subject: incredibly devastating – SENATE PROJECTION: 50 Democrats – 50 Republicans

My Favorite: From: “members@dccc.org”
To: gnutter@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 2:18:19 PM
Subject: Listen, we’re PLEADING

We’re out of people to email you.This week, you should have received an email from:

– President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton
We need 8,OOO more donations in the next 24 hours if we want any shot at giving President Obama a Democratic victory for his final two years.

From: “BREAKING NEWS”
To: gnutter@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 4:14:39 PM
Subject: HUFFINGTON POST President Obama wouldn’t have emailed you yesterday if it wasn’t critically important:

From: “polling-alert@dscc.org”
To: gnutter@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 4:17:19 PM
Subject: SHOCKING: (Nate Silver) BREAKING: Nate Silver: Georgia is the new “tipping-point state that would determine majority control.”

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments