Sunday Notes Sept. 28th 2014

Bud_mini

This BUD waits his turn!

I noted here on the Blog and on a Lowell Live Feed Post that I found it Interesting that no Councilor requested to suspend the rules and take former Mayor Bud out of order Tuesday Night. Many speakers have been given that courtesy.

To be fair I have since learned from Asa Stutz over on Lowell Live Feed that, Just before the City Council Meeting Rita Mercier asked Bud Caulfield if he would like her to suspend the rules to allow him to speak early. His response was absolutely not.

If you aren’t part of the Lowell Live Feed Forum, you should be. It is a great tool for ALL Lowellians to be able to discuss different topics and get answers to questions (Like I did).

KR

Who needs a Building Commissioner?

With the talk at this week’s Council Meeting and the Sun Story about Lowell cracking down on problem properties does anyone else find it ironic that the City has NO BUILDING COMMISSIONER?

Building Commissioner Robert Marsilia resigned in April and since then Manager Murphy hasn’t filled the position or stated publicly what he will do with the position.

In April he was quoted in the Sun saying “I will keep you informed of our alternate plans,”.

I thought a city the size of Lowell would have and need a full time Building Commissioner.

The fact that the City Ordinance states

Division of Development Services
The following positions will comprise the Division of Development Services:
Deputy Director for Development Services
Associate Planner
Historic Board Administrator
Neighborhood Planner
Assistant Planner
Planning Secretary
Building Commissioner

would seem to indicate that by Ordinance the City would have to have one or that the Council would need to vote to change the ordinance.

I know the Manager was able to create a NEW Asst. City Manager position without a peep from any City Councilor and out of the view of the public (so much for transparency) but I didn’t realize that he could ignore or change an ordinance without the public knowing about it and having the chance to comment on it and without a vote of the City Council.

Does he think the 4th largest city in the state doesn’t need a Building Commissioner? Is he hoping no one notices and instead he can use the funds for that position elsewhere? Why hasn’t a member of the Housing Sub-Committee or Public Safety Sub-Committee or any City Councilor asked publicly about this position?

I guess Councilor Kennedy and his fellow councilors are happy sitting in the backseat being chauffeured looking out the windows and not driving the car or even sitting in the front seat for that matter. They have certainly taken a back seat to this Manager when it come to Open and Transparent Gov’t.

Lowell wants residents and businesses to follow codes yet this Manager seems to be ignoring the Code of Ordinances that specifically calls for a Building Commissioner.

You would think that with all the talk of cracking down on problem properties that the City Council would be asking the Manager what he is doing with this position and why the 4th largest city in the state doesn’t have a Building Commissioner.

5 Month Review:

Manager Murphy has been in place 5 months so far and you can give him credit for the following:

1) Settling the Lowell Police Wrongful Death cases within the Department and avoided long drawn out negative hearings and stories.

2) Renegotiating the Arena contract with Global Spectrum and capping the liability exposure for the city at $200,000

3) Following the wishes of the Council in moving approx. $35 Million to two local banks from out of town banks.

4) Submitted and got approved a new City Budget

5) Appointed qualified people to various Boards and Commissions

6) Appears to be communicating well with the Council.

He does have some negative tendencies that need to be addressed:

1) Inconsistent on Job Postings (anywhere from 6-20 days) Doesn’t announce hirings or if he does, doesn’t do so with salaries.

2) Most of the qualified people hired oe appointed are politically connected to a State Rep. or City Councilor leaving an appearance that who you know matters more than what you know!

3) Has not appointed many (if any) people of diversity to Boards or Commissions

4) Trying to force UML out of 110 Canal for a private business after Gov, announces State investment of over 1 Million Dollars has many scratching their heads why he would snub the Gov. and Marty Meehan in this manner.

5) There is NO OPEN Government nor Transparency in his Administration to let the public know what is going on in filling positions and has lacked up to this point a connection to the various Neighborhood groups.

With little previous Managerial experience, he is off to a decent start but the lack of Transparency by this Administration and the indifference by this City Council who is allowing it shows that we have gone back to a time of Political Management and shows clearly the hypocrisy of several of these City Councilors, who promised Open Transparent Gov’t when running for Office.

GWL

Jumping from the Frying Pan into the fire?..

Congratulations (I think) to Lynda Clark former Administrative Assistant to CFO Tom Moses, then Manager Lynch on her new position with Lowell Housing Authority Executive Director Gary Wallace.

How Lowell can keep its momentum going

Trinity Financial which came under scrutiny a couple weeks ago from Councilor Belanger, responds with an Op-Ed Peice in today’s SUN written by Jim Keefe who is president of Trinity Financial and the master developer for the city’s Hamilton Canal District. Titled GATEWAY TO GREATNESS he recalls recalls first coming to Lowell to visit his brother, former City Planner Frank Keefe and shares some ideas about how he thinks the “momentum can continue: including the following suggestions:

First, the future economic success of this city is going to rest on its ability to attract and retain skilled and educated 21-to-34 year-olds, the so-called “creative class.” They will bring their brains, energy and entrepreneurial skills, which will create new business and attract future employers. Their disposable incomes will support a larger number of restaurants and shops. With this in mind, Lowell should target its economic development and marketing efforts to this demographic. It has made great strides in improving its school system, and making the city family friendly, but it could do more. (Perhaps making sure the funds are secured for a new, state of- the-art high school?) Also, it should encourage entertainment venues and community events that will appeal to this population. It should offer zoning incentives and tax relief to encourage more middle-income and market-rate housing, ideally higher density, mixed-use developments near public transit. While the city does an excellent job promoting Lowell, the effort needs to be fine-tuned and tailored to the aspirations of these young people.

It’s worth the read and kudos’ to the SUN for proving Mr. Keefe a space to share his thoughts.

Taking Care Of Business

NO not the BTO Song but the “NEW” slogan being implemented by Dracut Town Manager Jim Duggan. The Manager wants everyone from the present business owners in Dracut to those considering opening a Dracut business that the town and his staff WELCOME YOU and will work with you. If you are interested in expanding your current business or are thinking about locating in Dracut, call the Manager’s Office.

Great Place to have a Party!

Atty. Michael Gallagher and Senator Eileen Donoghue will be hosting a reception at the beautifully restored Gaslight Building (home of Gallagher & Cavanaugh LLP) for Democratic Governor nominee Martha Coakley and Lt. Governor Steve Kerrigan on Friday October 10th from Noon – 1:00.

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