Sunday Notes May 3rd 2015

LOWELL SUN EDITORIAL In Dracut, it’s Russ Taylor and Joe DiRocco

LOWELL SUN EDITORIAL
In Dracut, it’s Russ Taylor and Joe DiRocco

Lowell

The Lowell School Committee will interview the finalists for Lowell Supt. of Schools this week in publicly televised sessions in the City Council Chamber at Lowell City Hall. The last tentative schedule I’ve heard is :
• Salah Khelfaoui, currently superintendent in Winchendon, Monday at 7:15 p.m.
• Ferdinand Fuentes, currently executive director of educational options in the Boston Public Schools, Wednesday at 6 p.m.
• Jay Lang, Lowell Deputy Superintendent of Schools, at 7:15 Wednesday
• Kriner Cash, former Memphis city schools superintendent, Thursday at 6 p.m.
• Anthony Pope, Panasonic Education Foundation consultant Thursday at 7:15.

H/T to Lowell Sun Reporter Amelia Pak-Harvey, who has been running very informative and fair candidate profiles.

Pretty Quiet on the Political front

Lowell unlike many area communities is very quiet politically, especially when it come to the City Council race.

Those in the “downtown Mob” or “political bubble” will claim it is because:

A) Manager Murphy and this Council have things going pretty well so there is not a lot to complain about.
or
B) The more realistic among us will say it’s because Lowell’s finances, while still in great shape, are pretty well maxed so there isn’t a lot of money to fund programs or use to run on to try to fund a specific issue with. There is also no big issue to run on (Pro or anti Manager), Mayor’s behavior, public safety or economic development to use has a base for an election run.

Manager Murphy is finishing up his first year and to be fair he needs a 2nd year to really make it his budget and expand his and this councils vision. He faces another year with a 2.5%-3.5% budget increase (In my opinion based on comments by his administration) and will have to sell the Council and people on the need for it (without blaming the past Council and Administration for minimal tax increases) and in his 2nd year will need to find places and programs to save the city money.

Economic development is happening on a slow steady pace but there is no MAJOR company, business or corporation with jobs moving into Lowell. Take a look on Central streets, building/renovation is taking place and in some neighborhoods businesses are opening (and some closing) but considering the economic state in the entire country, Lowell is doing okay.

The administration and Council have to do something about the Fire Dept. providing more personal and mending some strained relationships. They will have hired 13 more Police Officer’s and are investing a half million dollars in a shot detector system to address the crime. However the administration is still closing 2 fire companies on occasion and have to address this because while it may not blow up on this council during this election season, if they don’t deal with it and reach an amicable decision on the Chief process, they will find themselves with an angry public safety division next election cycle. The Manager and Council will also have to deal with the teacher’s union and starting July 1 1705 Union which will be in need of a contract.

Mayor Elliott has been exactly what this city needed as Mayor, working with all people and neighborhoods and NOT causing any controversy a huge change compared to the last Mayor. IMHO he has also done well running the meetings. You can criticize him for his past actions and question his objectivity due to his closeness to this Manager but in the big picture, he has been the role model for what you want the Mayor to be. Seriously I would hope he thinks about a 2nd term. I may not always agree with him and have probably been his biggest critic but in his role as Mayor, he has been at least in all things I’ve seen and I hear about, a professional , respected, inclusive Mayor.

Lowell is facing another tight budget, minimal new growth and some Union challenges that will make Manager Murphy’s 2nd year much more challenging. The subtraction of having Chancellor Meehan at UMASS Lowell will also to some degree hurt. Having him in the city on a daily basis and the people he brought into Lowell was a boon for the city on many fronts. While he will keep and eye and assist the new chancellor (my $$ on J Moloney) it will not be the same.

State’s gain is MCC loss!

Congrats to Mary Jo Griffin on her return to state govt. Whatever position she is going to she will excel. Have only had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with her a couple times but when you hear people talk about her it is always in a positive manner and watching what she has done at MCC with the Paul Sullivan Institute has showed her talent and commitment to the students.

Auditor shows good fiscal practice

It appears Congratulations are in order for the City Auditor has done a good job getting the Outside Audit contract bid out and then she solicited the aid of 2 others to help her interview and review the applicants before selecting Powers and Sullivan to continue but by doing so the City received a better rate and more service.

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.17.22 PM

Burning Question

There is additional information provided in the Council packet this week regarding Fire Dept. Overtime:

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.19.29 PM

Right to Bear (not conceal) arms

The right of citizens to carry concealed fire arms was a hot issue on the Council floor not to long ago and was sent to the Supt. of Police for review and recommendation but to date nothing has changed. Supt. Bill Taylor was kind enough to respond to my question asking for an update on the issue:

Gerry,

I am in the process of reviewing a report concerning our policy on LTC’s and the restrictions on them. The purpose of the review is to determine how our current policy stands with respect to legal requirements and with respect to other urban communities around the commonwealth and to contiguous communities. I hope to complete the review soon and announce any possible changes.

Thanks
Bill

Constituent services are a Priority

If you or some one you know have an issue with trash, road repairs or paving or other neighborhood issues, call the Manager’s Office at 978-674-1000 or Neighborhood Services at 978-674-4030. They will listen and make an attempt at helping you address the issue. I may take shots at the Manager for his relationship with the Mayor, his past activities when he was a State Rep. and other things but I’ve found that he is very focused on addressing taxpayers, neighborhood issues / concerns and that constituent service is a priority of his.

HAZARD Clean up

Household Hazardous Waste Day 2015 in the City of Lowell
Cawley Stadium Parking Lot
Sat., May 9
Sat., Sept. 12
9 AM – 1 PM

Enter from Douglas Rd

The City of Lowell routinely coordinates several Household Hazardous Waste Days per year as an opportunity for residents to remove household hazardous waste from their home, instead of just throwing it out with the trash – which is illegal!

Household Hazardous Waste Days are announced in advance on the City’s website, as well as through the Solid Waste & Recycling Newsletter, and email subscription list.

New this year -> TEXTILES (clean/dry clothing, bedding, drapery, etc.) will be accepted!

Attention candidates

If you are a candidate or considering becoming a candidate for elected office here in Lowell, the state provides some strong assistants and support. You can Contact OCPF’s Legal Team with questions about fundraising or reporting requirements. OCPF’s lawyers are available to answer questions concerning the campaign finance law daily, call attorneys, Gregory Birne, Sarah Hartry and Maura Cronin, all are available at 617-979-8300.

Be aware that Sponsored Facebook Post (page boost or ads) are considered in kind contributions against the $1,0000 personal contribution limit and have to be reported by all candidates.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance will conduct several training seminars this year for municipal candidates including one here in Lowell at Lowell City Hall, 375 Merrimack St., Thursday June 4, 6:30 p.m.

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