Lowell Mayor Elliott: I want a list of other city employees followed by a private firm and the purpose!
Gerry Nutter: I want this bandage off my face and not have to worry about skin cancer again!
In reality: YOU can’t always get what you want.
I’m not 100% sure but I believe that an employee who was out on a “disability” claim who the city was investigating would have some right to privacy under the HIPAA Privacy Rules and not have their names or the disability made public.
If the Manager even discussed these employees in “Executive Session” given the proven track record of this Council since January, running to the Local Newspaper and Radio leaking information faster than a busted water pipe, I would say the City would be opening itself up to the possibility of many more Lawsuits if names were revealed to this Council!
I am somewhat surprised that the City Manager who is a Lawyer or the City Solicitor didn’t speak up and inform the Council of this? Maybe they figured it was better to let the showmanship and grandstanding play out last night and inform them of actual reality when they submit a report. I’d suggest the SUN could have brought up this point but the “reporter” who covers the City Council and Councilors is less than objective or 100% factual (leaves out facts that he/Sun consider insignificant).
It is my understanding that it is the Law Dept. that hires the surveillance as they investigated claims. They would then notify the Manager after the fact though occasionally, in more serious cases (City Clerk /Sandy Ames come to mind) would notify the Manager in advance.
However I’m also willing to bet that we find out it is less than half a dozen in the past few years. I’m sure the City did use some surveillance in cases like I mentioned above -Sandy Ames and some workers that were suspected of improper activity..like former City Clerk Rick Johnson (Remember who his Lawyer was) and the guy selling trash services.
It really is incredible to me that Mayor Elliott’s play for headlines would jeopardize the City’s ability to manage against fraud. He has always been the one screaming about comp cases on several occasions in the past few years including this past July:
* Approved Mayor Rodney Elliott’s motion requesting Murphy prepare a report regarding physician and nursing costs relative to workers’ compensation.
* Approved Elliott’s motion requesting Murphy prepare a report regarding workers’-compensation costs for the last five years.
Mayor Elliott is NOT all wrong here. He is correct that any surveillance should only be done on City Employees and not private citizens. Federal cases have shown that in some instances when a certain person was under surveillance, others they interacted with can also be recorded but I do think it crosses a line when the only thing even if it is only a small portion shows is a private citizen in their own home.
He is correct when he says the City should have strict guidelines in place and the Council and public should be made aware of what they are and who has the authority to ask for and to grant such surveillance.
The Holyoke City Council sent the request to name a street in honor of William Taupier to committee for a suitable street to be named. I’m still hoping that Rita Mercier or Ed Kennedy bring in a motion to name the section of what I think is Chestnut street between the Lowell Memorial Auditorium and the Immaculate Conception Church Bill Taupier Way.
I knew there would be one or two City Councilors who would not like the report from Diane Tradd about Market Rate Housing Downtown. It doesn’t fit their agenda! Yet I did not hear anyone remind these “brilliant” Councilors that if developers did not get loans and tax credits to develop many of these empty and decaying buildings with “affordable” housing units, the downtown would be a lot emptier and run down than it now is. It is astonishing to me that these supposed “leaders of the community” want to simply ignore the facts of the past because it doesn’t benefit their vision of the future.
Good Luck beginning this weekend navigating the two way traffic in”the downtown” (Merrimack / Central Streets specifically.) Unless it’s the City Councilors returning to their Belvidere homes, how many people are going to drive down Merrimack St. when you can’t take a left to go over John St. or Bridge St?? How can you come up Shattuck St. from Market and turn right or left, when you have a lane of traffic heading down Merrimack?