Sunday Notes July 24th. 2016

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Green Spoon excellent choice for Lunch in downtown!

Im out of the city weekdays working in Marlborough but yesterday my daughter took me to lunch in downtown Lowell at a place called GreenSpoon it was a great experience. I’m on a limited diet but had steak tips with mushrooms pepper and onions that were fantastic. She had the Lemon-Thyme Chicken Sandwich and a drink called the Green Hulk that she raved about. Do yourself a favor and try it out.

For those who still curse the Lynch Administration

IF you look at how tight our present budget is, imagine what state we would be in if we did not have these savings reported in the City Council packets the past and present weeks:

Switching to GIC
To project the savings accrued since the city joined the GIC, we reviewed the city’s claim history and total premium costs prior to entering the GIC with Cook and Company Insurance Services, a consulting firm that worked with the city when we were self-insured. Based on a projected forecast of 8%, the estimated savings from FY13 to date would be $12.6 million in saving

Ameresco – HEY Rodney, you still in opposition???

The city has saved about $4.7 million on energy costs since starting an efficiency and solar-energy program in 2010, according to a new report.

Over a 20-year period, the city expects to save more than $40 million through measures like more efficient lighting, heating and cooling-equipment upgrades, replacing windows and improving insulation.

Lowell has separately saved about $775,000 through solar-panel systems installed at the city’s water utility and wastewater facilities, and at systems in Athol and Orange from which the city uses so-called net-metering credits to save on its energy bills.

“It’s definitely an exciting story to tell,” said Katherine Moses, the city’s energy manager, who prepared the report.

Manager Murphy may have calmed the political waters and has the advantage of not having to deal with bad Rodney but if is wasn’t for the savings listed above that began during the Lynch administration, this city would have been laying off police instead of hiring them and raising taxes that would use all of our built up “excess” tax levy and using more reserves than we have already.

Lynch was stopped by the City Councilor’s from raising taxes because of the savings he and his staff created.

Murphy understands that even in good times minimal tax increases are necessary and has raised taxes every year since becoming Manager.

You don’t find these headline under Manager Murphy: Elliott suggested an across-the-board cut of 2.5 percent to every line item or Rodney Elliott’s proposal – “Lynch to put all $1.5 million toward reducing the planned tax increase because taxpayers are struggling to pay their bills. Elliott was the lone councilor to vote against the budget because of the tax increases it included.”

His ” little brother ” behaves and rubber stamps what Manager Murphy wants. If it wasn’t for Ameresco (Which Elliott fought against) and the GIC savings Lowell would be in even worse financial shape than I think that we are.

Contract for School Supt. irresponsible and nothing more than Political game!

The BS line in today’s Sun that suggest ” the rumor mill starts up again that Khelfaoui might not be in Lowell much longer”. The excuse that Mayor Kennedy is working to change that by getting him a contract shows the real political pettiness of Ed Kennedy.

Kennedy was against a contract for the City Manager but will somehow try to justify giving this Supt. a contract?

It’s nothing but his petty political payback against Manager Murphy and Councilor Elliott for their attempts at screwing him out of the Mayors position after promising him their support for his vote for Murphy to become Manager!

The Supt. in his first year in Lowell has rightfully earned a reputation for not responding to people, whether it’s a parent group, city dept. head or Supt. from another School district. He also has shown he doesn’t like criticism or challenges to his views.

He showed his arrogance and disdain for his bosses on the school committee when he told the Sun this past winter “The beauty of me in all of this is you can go ahead and fire me any time you want. I’m ready to retire, so I don’t really care about any of the politics.”

In his first budget presentation to the City of Lowell School Committee, he had to change the date of the presentation several times, never televised them live for “transparency” or for the public to see and not using City Hall Council Chambers except one of the meetings after a regular scheduled Committee meeting the same night the Finance sub-committee was supposed to review the budget and scheduling an Executive Session between the regular meeting and sub-committee meeting.

His lack of oversight resulted in a poorly drafted RFQ for modular classrooms causing middle school classes of 25 or more and trying to convince parents to send 5th graders to a STEM school with no certainty of where those students would go in 6th grade.

During one budget session School Committee member Robert Gignac had to point out he was suggesting using food service funds to pay health teacher salaries and it wasn’t allowed by law.

Jean Franco / Jay Lang budgets have generally ended with a fiscal year surplus that allows for one time purchases while this administration which show many negative account balances projects to finish the 2015/2016 school year “breaking even”.

His administration mishandled badly the racial texting incident involving the son of one of his present bosses, many solid hard working people in the school system have left or retired because of his lack of communication and he created a chief of staff positions / Aide de camp / driver using a political connected person who was supposed to be the Asst. HR director. He has a full time Executive Secretary but you need to contact the Asst. HR person to get a meeting set up or confirmed.

He maybe correctly but certainly cowardly addressed what he believes is a budget shortfall due to transportation cost by putting in his budget presentation the following narrative

The Superintendent’s Recommended FY2017 budget sustains the existing district programs and services provided in FY2016 and continues the expansion of the Rogers STEM Academy for students in grades Pre-K through 4 and (2) strands of 5th grade.

A general fund operating budget of $ 158.4 million to be reduced by the transportation costs of $7,819,660 is required to accomplish these initiatives. The transportation costs are paid by the Lowell Public Schools, however it is the responsibility of the City. This requires an additional amount of $7,819,660 to fundtransportation bringing the total budget to $158.4 million. This represents an increase of $4.1 million, or 2.66%, in FY2017 over that of the FY2016 funding levels.

Yet I hear he NEVER brought that up to the City Manager or City CFO in any budget discussion. In addition Mayor Kennedy or any School Committee member properly addressed this during the budget discussions or in any meeting since.

This Supt. played a large part in the town budget issues in Winchindon and this proposed budget for fiscal 2016/2017 is built on a prayer and I for one fully expect the school dept to either have to do mid-year cuts or ask for more money from the city to operate.

A contract specifically calling out a set number of years is NOt required, not sensible and not that much different from his current MOU that he agreed to when taking the job. Offering him one is nothing more than petty political payback.

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
THE CITY OF LOWELL SCHOOL COMMITTEE AND DR. SALAH KHELFAOUI

Memorandum of understanding (“Mou”) between the city of Lowell school committee (Committee) and Dr. Salah Khelfaoui (“Khelfaoui”) relative to his appointment as Superintendent of Lowell Public Schoots (“Superintendent”) for the City of Lowell, effective June 4,2015.
Pursuant to this Mou, the Parties agree that Khelfaoui,s employment shall be governed by the same terms set forth in the city of Lowell ordinance $56-6 (“personnel,,) as it provides for certain enumerated benefits, including but not limited to: insurance coverage, vacation time, sick leave, holidays, personal days, family leave, bereavement leave, and personal leave. In addition to the four weeks of vacation provided in the ordinance, the committee is also providing an additional 5 vacation days for a total of 25 vacation days per academic year.

In the event that the Committee does not intend to employee Khelfaoui for the start of a new academic year, the committee agrees to notify Khelfaoui in writing of its intent the prior December, on the 1st of that month.

The committee, pursuant to MGL c.71, $59, agrees to compensate Khelfaoui $185000.00 per fiscal year, which is accrued hourly and paid on a weekly basis. The committee shall provide a $300.00 per month travel allowance in lieu of a mileage reimbursement.

IN witness WHEREOF, the School committee of the city of Lowell has voted that this Memorandum of Agreement be entered into and duly attested by its clerk, and Khelfaoui has signed and executed this Memorandum of Agreement this A+\ [u, of June 2015.
Date: June 4, 2015

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